Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Vietnamese Moment

Scene: I am in the posh Kim Do Hotel in central Saigon. I am sitting in the restaurant with my colleague Thuy. Classical music plays in the background and I can hear the soft trickle of the intricate waterfall at the back of the open-air restaurant.

Thuy sits with a grilled tomato on her plate. A slice of gently melted mozzarella cheese clings onto the softened tomato.

Thuy: What is this?

She pries the cheese off of the tomato and flips it around on her plate

Me: I think it's cheese.
Thuy: Cheese?
Me: Yes, you know, phó mát (the word for cheese in Vietnamese)

She pricks it with her fork

Thuy: It looks like tofu
Me: No, it's definitely cheese, Thuy. It's a grilled tomato.

She pops it into her mouth, and starts to chew. With a blank expression on her face, I can see the cheese poke out of her mouth as she chews it.

Thuy: Well, it kind of tastes like tofu.

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