A taste of Vietnam

The Vietnamese Culture Organization (VCO) gathered students on the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 22, to partake in the second night of their three-night cultural and culinary celebration series, Taste of Vietnam. 

Taste of Vietnam explores the unique and delicious foods coming from the many different cultures within Vietnam. This most recent event visited central Vietnam, serving three variants of the distinctly Vietnamese and much beloved dessert, che. 

Che is a traditional Vietnamese dessert typically served as a pudding, dessert soup or sweet beverage. There are dozens of variants of che, including individual ingredients that vary from mung beans to corn and sesame seeds to rice. 

These flavors are paired with sweet coconut milk or cream, served hot or cold depending on the dish. 

Sweet and with a consistency similar to pudding, the first dish served during the event was a special variant of che composed of delicate mixture of sweetcorn and steamed coconut milk. 

It was served hot in plastic cups, with plenty to go around for the dozens of mingling students throughout Sabin house, and started the event off with an impressive display of powerful and invigorating flavor. 

The second dish was less sweet, but just as exciting as the first. With a similar viscous consistency, this dish was a mixture of steaming coconut milk and egg-like rice balls filled with black sesame seeds. Looking at the dish, one might expect it to be sweet and consistent, as the previous corn-infused che was. 

However, after fishing through the coconut pudding and biting down on one of the three rice balls within, the taster was met with a vibrant, almost bitter array of sesame flavor. It was certainly the most unexpected of the three dishes, and did well to showcase the unique and intricate culinary tradition stemming from this region of Vietnam.

The third and final dish was similar to the previous ones. Served hot in the same plastic cups, this Che dessert was a concoction of peanut rice balls and hot coconut milk. 

Rather than the explosive imprint of flavor of the previous dish, the peanut within the rice balls was smooth and familiar, albeit blending with the invariable uniqueness of thick and creamy coconut in a delicious Vietnamese flair. This dish was savory and smooth, an excellent finale to the courses served over the afternoon. 

Bringing the evening to an informative close, the VCO organizers showed a documentary displaying the intricacies of food culture in central Vietnam. This video enlightened its viewers to the incredible variety of dishes throughout Vietnam, and gave insight into the nation’s vibrant and all too unrepresented feat of extraordinary culinary art.

Should students be interested in attending an event of VCO’s Taste of Vietnam series, the third and final event will be on Saturday, Mar. 7, from 12 to 2 p.m., and will be exploring the northern Vietnamese dish banh mi.  

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