Open-air and indoor markets are the heart of the Vietnamese community. Due to the minimal use of refrigeration in the country, residents go to the market nearly everyday to buy fresh produce, tofu, pork, seafood and noodles. Every time I travel to a new city, I always make a point to visit the markets for fruits and people watching.
Duong Dong Market in Phu Quoc is unpaved and packed with vendors on both sides of the narrow and dusty thoroughfare. Produce vendors dominate the scene, but there are a healthy number of non-produce goods as well.
The vendor in the foreground is selling ingredients for che, the vendor in the center is selling fried up slices of banh tet (a cylindrical version of banh chung), and the vendor in the background is selling jackfruit.
Even though these preserved mustard greens (cai chua) are inches away from the grimy street, they still look pretty darn tasty to me. My grandma makes her own preserved mustard greens, but not in bulk like these! I think this sour vegetable tastes best kho‘d with fried tofu and chili flakes.
Cha gio, greens, bun, nuoc cham… there’s only one thing this woman could be selling—bun cha gio! At 5,000 VND a bowl, The Astronomer just had to have one.
This little piggy went to the market, but he didn’t really have a say in the matter. The Astronomer and I were surprised by how close the vendors worked next to all of these bloody carcases. Even though it makes me a little uncomfortable seeing a dead pig’s head, I think that the meat counters at grocery stores in America should display them because our society is too far removed from our food source.
Ingredients for some refreshing che—grass jelly and coconut jelly (I think!).
And lastly, a woman serving up banh mi nem nuong or barbecued meat ball sandwiches.