In Vietnam the majority of the day to day life happens outdoors. This is specially true in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, where everything comes alive as soon the sun comes up and everybody stays on the move until the sun goes down. By 6.30am the streets are packed with people going to work, hawkers selling noodles soups and banh mi for breakfast. Lunch time is the time when food stalls and markets selling fresh meals, tasty snacks and fresh fruit are the busiest. In the evenings ca phe, tra chan and vendors selling the most appetizing treats take over. And at dinner time is once again the turn of the food stalls and barbecues. The streets are always bustling with people savoring tasty snacks, enjoying a cold bear at a bia hoi or chit chatting with a tra chan and sunflower seeds.
The aromas coming from the hawkers, the good vibe of the ca phe stalls, the weather, the cute and colourful doll size chairs and tables… everything invited us to join and enjoy this Vietnamese outdoorsy way of living. And of course to try some of the mouth watering street life treats!
Of course we couldn’t close the taste of Lao chapter without talking about the drinks, and specially about the famous Beerlao. Beerlao is the country’s insignia, almost more representative than its flag! This lager is light, crisp, refreshing and definitively addictive. The best way to enjoy it is watching the sun set at any bar overlooking the Mekong river. While the locals drink it with ice, we still prefer it just chilled. Oh Beerlao, how much we miss you!
If I would have to say what is the drink that better represents India, without a doubt Chai would be my answer. This sweet spiced tea is incredibly addictive! To prepare it, the best back tea is boiled in a mixture of milk and water with a blend of spices (cardamom, fresh ginger, cloves, cinnamon,…) and sugar. Every masala chai is different from the others, and every household has their own particular way of preparing it but they are all just incredibly tasty. After tasting the Indian Chai I don’t know if I’ll be able to get used to Irish Barry’s tea again. Good coffee can also be found in India, but mostly in the south where locals tend to replace the chai with coffee that is brewed in the area.
Many are the options to calm the thirst on those hot days when visiting India, from the fresh fruit juices to the different soft drinks such as Slice (mango flavored drink), 7th up (soda), Limca (lemon & lime fizzy drink), Thumbs Up (Indian cola) and the usual Sprite, Coke, Mountain Dew and Fanta. But our favorites were fresh lime soda and Mirinda (which brought Isma many memories from his childhood).
Beers, wines and spirits aren’t too widely available in India (both taxes and religion have something to do with this). In many bars and restaurants you won’t find any alcoholic beverages in the menu, but if you ask for it they might sell it to you under the table. Aside KingFisher and King’s (that we tried in Palolem), we didn’t get to find any other local beer. In Palolem we also found an Indian rum named Old Monk, which was sold to us as the rum that the Indian soldiers used to drink, and true or not we gave it a go!
And of course, I can’t forget to mention lassis, a yogurt and fresh fruit smoothies that are so good for breakfast. Plain and banana lassis are the most traditional ones, but in Jodhpur they have a special lassi flavored with saffron and butter, yummm so good!
As well as local dishes we also wanted to give it a go to the different local beverages, here are some of the ones we tried during our stay in Nepal.
None Alcoholic Beverages
The Nepali tea, which I can keep drinking for hours! Chiya, which is commonly known as milk tea is made by boiling tea with hot milk & water and adding to it sugar, a bit of ginger, cardamom or pepper.
Tibetan Tea = Butter tea. Milk tea to which they add rancid butter.Tried once it is enough… I think I still have the taste of that rancid butter after two weeks…
Lassi is a drink of curd mixed with water that can be drunk plain or with fruit. It is a very tasty and refreshing kind of milkshake, the banana lassi is lovely.