A tribute to the Viet way of life

When you finish eating, rest your chopsticks on top of your rice bowl, thank you very much. And thank Buddha this isn’t someone’s home, because you left your etiquette at the door by not bringing fruit, sweets, flowers or incense. And next time, if you do happen to remember to bring flowers, make sure they’re not yellow or chrysanthemums.

No I’m not your mother-in-law or strict grandmother laying dinning etiquette rules down on the table like a bowl of scalding custard – I’m talking Vietnamese culture and their deliciously captivating way of doing things.

Here I am consuming immeasurable amounts of plated Viet goodness, and hugely regretting not ordering the crispy duck pancakes (although I question this dish’s Vietnamese authenticity). I am at the award-winning restaurant Sông Quê (check out the review here), and loving the aromatic atmosphere and soup-bowl-to-face antics. It’s fresh, clean, cheap, and highly recommended for any great food lover.

[quote_left]Believe it or not, around 1/3 of all Vietnamese Londoners live in Hackney and other parts of South East London[/quote_left]I pondered on the thought of Vietnamese culture in London and wondered why so many restaurants set up shop in Shoreditch/Hackney. Well, believe it or not, around 1/3 of all Vietnamese Londoners live in Hackney and other parts of South East London. And, many Londoners firmly believe that the Vietnamese people have made phenomenally positive contributions to the city’s eclectic culture.

Vietnamese immigration to the UK started at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. The refugees who fled their homelands due to persecution at the hands of the victorious communists, found it very difficult to settle in Britain, as they were thinly spread out, and deprived of vital mutual support. Generations on, their communities are thriving and Londoners are consuming their delicate cuisine by the bucket load, and revelling in their cultural contributions – especially with respect to the arts.

A dear friend of mine is Vietnamese, and through him I began to understand his family and their people. I learned over many years how incredibly hard working they are, and how they really enjoy doing things their ‘own way’. They love family and sharing food amongst themselves, vindicating their status as generous and welcoming people. In fact, sitting and enjoying my ‘Pho’ reminded me of the countless times I shared laughter and great company with my friends, as coming together for amazing food was a regular fixture within our weekly schedule.

However, it wasn’t until I walked out of the entrance and onto Kingsland Road that I realised I had deprived myself of something. Now added to my already colossal travel list is a visit to Vietnam, and to this day I continue to fall madly in love with their food, culture, and their ‘little ways’ of doing things the Viet way.