Remember when you thought your parents were a bit odd, if not fully mental, when they spoke of ‘the good-ol’ days?’ Well I have those feelings a bit every time I enter our favorite Vietnamese soup hangout Pho Bac. It’s not that I crave the meat or miss the ground pork-filled Chả_giò that much(they are after all, quite delicious),
but in ‘the good ol days’ we were simply 2 number 7’s, medium and a #37, 4 pieces. We often would joke that they probably turned our order in when they saw my truck pull into the parking lot or at least by the time we walked in and seated. This was for many years our Sunday evening ritual after working at the salon and I was too tired to cook. What better way to end a work day than a big bowl of steaming beef soup with aromatic vegetables and for $5.95 to boot. These days, we’re not nearly so quick and easy.
Whether you call them noodles, pasta or spaghetti, they contain flour, water and sometimes egg. Almost every culture in the world has them and most likely it was our pal, Marco Polo who brought them from the Orient along the silk road back to Venice. I will, sometime in the future do a posting showing the steps of making your own noodles. As Julia would say, “Let’s not be noodle snobs, but they’re not like anything you’ve ever tasted. Once you make your own, you’ll never go back to store-bought.” I won’t say I never serve store-bought, but I am usually asked “Why are we having store-bought and not home-made noodles?”, when I serve them.
Now, back to the subject at hand. Since we are technically pescetarian, the shrimp noodle bowl at the pho house is a choice as is their vegetarian noodle bowl. Now, while I enjoy tofu occasionally, the veggie noodle bowl had almost an entire block of tofu atop the noodles and I found when I ordered it, I became tired of it long before the last slice consumed. Our next visit I opted for the grilled shrimp vermicelli and found it more to my liking.
The garnish of peanuts, slivers of cucumbers, carrots, radishes and cilantro is highly aromatic and keeps the taste-buds dancing. The bowl on the side is nước chấm (I do hope all the accents show up on your monitor!), or Vietnamese dipping sauce. This is a fish-sauce based sauce with a little sugar, water and Thai pepper, radish and carrot as garnish.
Since we eschew ground pork these days, and the cha gio are already made at this restaurant, we began with a spring roll. I am a real stickler for NOT repeating ingredients in a menu, but this day I excepted because we were so ravenous(as we seem to always be at lunch, no matter how big a breakfast we eat).
I know it’s more shrimp, but we’re still figuring out this pescetarianism, so we’re eating a good deal more seafood, especially in restaurants. These little rolls are sheets of rice paper wrappers around shredded lettuce, clear rice noodles(I know, yet another menu repeat), and halved boiled shrimp.
Now in reference to the name of this post, I’ll say we’ve eaten more than our fair share of noodles since this pescetarianism began, but just this morning over a bowl of spicy vegetable fried rice, we agreed that we haven’t really missed meat. That’s not to say if I got a whiff of a simmering daube de bouef my mouth wouldn’t water, but there’s been no cravings of “Oh my, I’ve got to have a piece of chicken” since we first gave it up. Just last weekend a friend invited us for supper to visit with one of our god-children who was visiting rom California. When I reminded her we weren’t eating meat, I quickly followed with “Now’s your chance to un-invite us if you’d like(she didn’t).” We had a wonderful meal of fresh tomatoes, fresh cold corn, cantaloupe, ratatouille and tuna salad followed by a plate of lemon squares and brownies that hit the spot, too. We departed the evening satisfied but not stuffed.
If you’re wondering how the visit to the Pho house ended, well, as they say, ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words.’ The table looks annihilated, but the diners were happy campers as we waddled home.
(I urge you to click on it and see for yourself the remains of a wonderfully summertime meal. So wonderful in fact, I’d be happy to have it in the middle of winter!)