Reflections and stories on six months of life, culture, food and friendship in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Duck Interrupted

My last entry began with eggs too. Maybe it's just some kind of pent up poultry craving following the most recent bird flu chicken black-out.

Last night I went out for hotpot with a friend. We had a mixed platter of meats and veggies, but included two eggs on top. We let them cook the longest and just before we sent the pot back we dished them out and cracked them open. I was shocked at the sight. This was no ordinary egg in my bowl. This was the infamous trung vit lon, or fertilized duck egg. I had been wanting to try this delicacy, but thought I had missed my chance when poultry products all vanished across the city. Still I was not prepared for the sight. I must say it was much more difficult to sink my teeth into this than to eat dog. The sight of it just screamed Don't eat me! at the most visceral level. The egg had already started to form itself into a little duckling. Thankfully I could not make out the head or beak (actually I think my first bite took care of that as it was the most, umm, well let's say textured of the bites), but the nascent wings were in evidence, and little veins were already forming just inside the shell. Then there was a little juicy grey section. My guess is that these were to become the little duckling guts. I ate the whole thing.

Well, there is one off my list. Again, like dog, not my favourite, but one of those things any food adventurer in this region has to try. I hear it is much better when served as a dish on its own, accompanied by herbs like rau ram, and dipped in various sauces (like the picture above, taken in Laos). Incidentally, the rau ram is supposed to modify the trung vit lon's apparently potent Viagra effect. It seems I am living very dangerously!

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