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Eating Viet Nam: Dispatches from a Blue Plastic Table Hardcover – March 17, 2015

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Holliday writes with exhiliration…[his] loving, laddish descriptions will make gonzo gourmands salivate.” (The New York Times Book Review)

From the Back Cover

“Graham Holliday is one of the great gastronauts, a charming and intrepid try-anything explorer who makes the rest of us food writers feel hopelessly inadequate (and woefully underfed). You’d be a fool to delve into Viêt Nam’s spectacular cuisine without him as your guide.”—Peter J. Lindberg, editor at large, Travel & Leisure A journalist takes us on a colorful and spicy gastronomic tour through Viêt Nam in this entertaining, offbeat travel memoir

Growing up in a small town in central England, Graham Holliday wasn’t keen on travel. But in his early twenties, he saw a picture of Hà Nội that sparked his curiosity and propelled him halfway across the globe. An ordinary guy who liked trying interesting food, he moved to the capital city and embarked on a quest to find real Vietnamese food. In Eating Việt Nam, he chronicles his odyssey in this enticing, unfamiliar land infused with sublime smells and tastes.

Funny, charming, and always delicious, Eating Việt Nam will inspire armchair travelers, those with curious palates, and everyone itching for a taste of adventure.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco (March 17, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062293052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062293053
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a Vietnamese living abroad, I am always curious about others' experience and perception of Vietnamese culture. I have to say, I enjoyed reading Mr. Holliday's book very much. His observation of street food culture in Vietnam is both accurate and hilarious. I thoroughly enjoyed the chapter about the cultural differences between North and South. My parents were from the North, but I was born and raised in the South, and the difference between North and South’s cooking philosophy permeated in every home cooked meal. They would diligently explain how the same dish was cooked differently in each region. Street food was an important part of any Vietnamese growing up. Reading Mr. Holliday’s book brought back a lot of happy memories of the olden days. Although, I would say that this book is strictly about street food. Most of the dishes that the author held dear to his heart are not easily replicate at home (both for the economical and taste reasons). Two important parts of Vietnamese cuisine that Mr. Holliday didn't explore are the Hue cuisine (imperial cuisine as well as street food), and Vietnamese home cooking. He readily admitted that in his book. Vietnamese home cooking is rich in varieties and taste. Hue’s cuisine is more complicated and time consuming in the preparation process, which, in my experience, makes it hard to find a decent restaurant outside of Vietnam that can recreate the taste. I am sad that Mr. Holliday left Vietnam before he could explore these parts of our cuisine. His curiosity, couples with the journalistic due diligence he did in learning about the food sources and culture transpire in this book. He delivers a fair and accurate view of a part of our culture that a native Vietnamese like me can appreciate. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about Vietnam.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Vietnam visitor beginning in 1996, and a former semi-expat there, I have huge respect for Graham's work and for his former blog Noodlepie. What a great thing he's done in uncovering the culinary delights of Vietnamese food and in particular, the "street food" of the (formerly) ubiquitous carts and streetside sellers of Saigon. (As an aside, in my early trips there, I always ate from the street sellers and sat on their teeny plastic stools without hesitation, and like Graham I was normally the only Westerner at any given cart or hole-in-the-wall restaurant. But in no way did I do this with the focus and determination that Graham did with Noodlepie.)

In any case, this book is a departure from those excellent exploratory missions. It's more of a story about how Graham came to develop the Noodlepie blog, and why. For me - a reader of the blog for years - it's an interesting background story and it may also be very interesting to those not familiar with Noodlepie. It's very well written, engaging, and provides a lot of insight into the cuisine of Vietnam, particularly what makes it so unique and so great.

Unfortunately - and as Graham anticipates in the book - most of the streetside food sellers of downtown Saigon have been pushed off the streets and sidewalks and into storefronts or restaurants if they're to be found anywhere at all. That's a shame - although Vietnamese of my acquaintance think it's a good thing and that ridding the downtown streets of Ma and Pa food carts makes the city more advanced and "sophisticated". Still, on a very recent trip I very much missed the early morning pho carts at the back of the Hotel Rex, and I couldn't find a decent streetside bahn mi anywhere in District 1.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I avidly followed Graham's blog, Noodlepie, from the the first moment I discovered it when I was living in Saigon in 2004. Graham's playfulness with language and his delightful, straightforward approach to exploring Vietnam's food led me to reading through the entire blog archives in that first sitting. From that discovery forward, I checked Noodlepie on a daily basis wanting more and despaired when he moved away from Vietnam.

I have looked forward to this book since I knew it was coming out. I pre-ordered it and eagerly began reading it on the day of its publication. I read through the first quarter of the book in one sitting, and then finished the rest in short bits, not wanting to get to the end. This is a personal, honest accounting of not only Graham's fascination with the food of Vietnam but also the story of a guy whose curiosity led him from his home in England to Hanoi and Saigon and eventually beyond.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Vietnam, food, travel, or simply those looking to gain a glimpse into the interesting personal journey that led Graham to eventually write this book.

Simply put, Eating Viet Nam is a joy to read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Whether it is your first time in Viet Nam or your next time, this is a guide that can unlock some of the mysteries of Vietnamese street food. Entertaining, informative and passionate, the author does a wonderful job of boldly going down the alleyways and peeking under the pot lids that many are too intimidated to do themselves. I have traveled to Viet Nam and have been lucky enough to have patient and informative local guides to show me the good, the bad and the quintessential dishes of this vibrant culture. This book brought back amazing tastes, warm encounters and funny faux pas I have experienced over the years. For better and for worse, I am richer for the experiences and flavors of my travels in Viet Nam. I feel the same about this book. Thank you Mr. Holliday! I am going to Viet Nam this Fall with my wife and a niece who have never been there and I am re-reading the book to take notes on specific foods and locations in Hanoi. The places might change but I share the authors wish that the menu will be eternal. Chuc suc khoe!
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