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Hello Ben Thanh Market!

By: Katka Brizendine Chebenova Posted: September-15-2011 in
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Katka Brizendine Chebenova

Nothing is more specific for South East Asian countries than markets. They burst with activities, colours, smells and flavours. There is stuff to love alongside stuff you wouldn’t put in your mouth even if someone paid you a fair amount of money. I made a huge mistake that I had never really properly visited the food part of Ben Thanh market here in Saigon up to today. But the mistake was corrected and I am killing two birds with one stone, since finally I have a good enough reason to finally start blogging! So dear readers, welcome to my new blog and the biggest and best market in Saigon – Ben Thanh market!

The visit of the market was a part of a cooking class I finally attended by Saigon Cooking Class. I have to say, you don’t know the country until you visit some of its markets. I love Vietnamese food. I would even say that it’s my favourite food out of South East Asian cuisines. The freshness of herbs, blended with rice products, all soaked in fish sauce, garlic, chillies… However, I had little knowledge about all the ingredients necessary for its preparation. Therefore, a market visit with a Vietnamese chef seemed like one of the best ideas I had in a long long time. Phuong, a chef at Hoa Tuc restaurant – one of the nicest Vietnamese restaurants in town and where the cooking class takes place- took us on this short, but very information full tour, before we went to the restaurant to learn how to prepare such delicacies as fresh spring rolls, water spinach salad and lotus seed fried rice (oh yes, you should be excited, the cooking part will have its own post dedicated to it!).

Apparently, Ben Thanh market is the best market in Vietnam, with the freshest and highest quality produce available. It opens very early in the morning, with produce being delivered from the farmers and producers as early as 3 AM to have the best on offer. Most of the fruits, veggies, seafood and meat is sold out by 1 PM. Produce can’t be displayed for longer than 2 hours to ensure the freshness and safety in the heat and humidity. No stinky stuff around. You can find here anything – from crabs, green pepper corns, zucchini flowers (oh, how yummi they are stuffed and fried!), to frogs, lotus roots and bitter melon. Women sit on those typical red and blue plastic stools, killing frogs by breaking their necks, cleaning fish, weighting batches of herbs and veggies. Men cut ice and and assist with heavy loads. Let the pictures speak.

Anyone excited about the cooking part of the cooking class? So please hang in there, it’s about to come soon!

About The Author - Katka Brizendine Chebenova

Helping, dance, movies, music, reading - all of this all around the world... enjoying life even when it gives me lemons sometimes the end, I can always use them in hummus or lemonade, right?


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