Wednesday, March 25, 2015

We Made It! Hoi An Day 1

(Please excuse any misspellings and awkward formatting. I'm writing all this at 4am on my iPad with spotty wifi)

After two car trips, four flights and an eight hour layover, we are finally here! And in good spirits which is pretty remarkable. People watching, alcohol and inappropriately-shaped travel pillows got us through it. 
Hoi An is an old trade port town in the south central coastal region of Vietnam. It's considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO meaning its old trading port culture/style is exceptionally well-preserved. 

Let's get straight to it - the food! Hoi An's local specialty cao lau noodles are very well known. I mean literally. It's made from the town's special well water, which supposedly gives the thick rice noodles their delicious flavor and texture. 

That's cao lau on the bottom there. The noodles are coated in a thick brown, savory broth. Their tossed with some crunchy local vegetables and topped with sliced pork. It's so good. Very light and 100% satisfying. Perfect for lunch on a hot and humid day. My favorite part of it is the extra spoonful of broth at the bottom you dip the noodles in right before every bite. 

The dish above the cao lau noodles is another local specialty. It's called My Quang noodles that originated from the Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. This broth is strong too, so only a little is used to coat the thick rice noodles. It's usually topped with pork, shrimp, crunchy things and local veggies. We got lucky. Our bowl had quail eggs, which are the size of a big marble. What is it about quail eggs? They taste just like chicken eggs but are so much more amazing. I think it's because you can eat them and pretend to be a giant. 

(With Eli. I have my "I'm-so-happy-I-have-no-idea-what-I'm-eating-face" on)

If you're like me and love everything Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, you know the place to go in a town like this is the main market. I don't know how to say this exactly and I risk sounding cheesy, but I've wanted to visit these markets SO BAD. Like life bucket list bad. Like Marshmallow wanting to break into a room full of Chuck-It balls bad. Like tween girl wanting Zayne to come back to One Direction bad. I'm someone who finds the fish section of 99 Ranch exciting for goodness sake!

(seafood section of Hoi An's Central Market)

The smells, the shouting, the food, the constant hustling...I love it! The two hours we spent here I sort of just went around asking "Can I eat that?" "How about that?" "Is that edible" "okay, can I eat it?" One market lady taught me how to eat an Asian custard apple. It tastes like a really sticky version of a pear. We're laughing in this picture because she told me her name means "crazy lady." Sort of true. She had a review book and one person wrote "Do what she says and no one gets hurt."

If you're wondering, I did eat a bug. Or, at least, I think it was a bug. It looked like these except not fried, plumper and soaked in water. 

It tasted a lot better than it a fat mushy nut.

Coming up, our trip to Cham Island which is off the coast of Hoi An. We chow down on some seafood I've never even seen before. Top it off with chili, scallions and some oil....*drool*

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