Knowing the Vietnamese via the way they eat is one of the most interesting topics to the travelers, so here are some facts about Vietnamese eating habits that might interest you. It is up to you to follow the locals’ ways or not, by using chopsticks for example, but the knowledge in advance can make your journey more exciting than ever expected.
#1: Three major meals in Vietnam
The locals have three major meals including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but note that there is no fixed time for these meals. This means each family might eat at their preferred periods, and this also varies due to the regions, from urban to the countryside. This might sound strange to some of you that there are no coffee or tea breaks between the meals. And, the major component of almost every meals is the rice.
In general, people have breakfast before 09:00 AM and the food might be sweet or salty, which can be Vietnamese sandwich, “Pho” (noodle soup with beef or chicken) and sticky rice. Regarding lunch, it is nutritive which is often eaten before 01:00 PM. People working in the office can take a break and have lunch at the local eateries or street vendors. You might surprise to know that the main meal of the day in Vietnam is dinner, which is usually after 06:00 PM and before 08:00 PM. This is also when the family members gather, talk, and eat together. Oftentimes, women are responsible for cooking. However, today, it is common that people are eating out.
#2: The concept of dining table in Vietnam
If you travel to Vietnam‘s countryside areas, especially in the remote villages, know that not all families have the dining table. In traditional beliefs, only wealthy families could afford the dining tables and chairs in the house with enough spaces. On the contrary, the indigent villagers often gather in a circle and eat, without the need to use the dining table. Even if they use the dining table, the concept might be different from what you think. This means they can take advantage of the stone table, the bamboo bed, or the working table to display the food.
#3: Eating in Vietnam is also about sharing
Traditionally, food is served in a single bowl or tray so that people can together take the food from it and share it. The elders might take food for the youth to show their care and love. Meanwhile, younger people might save the most delicious dishes for their seniors to show their respect. Overall, it is about the sense of sharing in a meal.
#4: Stewing, steaming, and frying are the most common cooking methods
To cook a meal, the Vietnamese often stew it, and the stewed pork is the favorite food in the country. Along with that, the chicken if often steamed and fish is fried. What’s more, vegetables should be boiled or stir-fried with garlic. More significantly, the local dinner mostly has steamed rice.
#5: No strict eating rules or rituals
The Vietnamese people are famous for their friendliness, and the eating habits in Vietnam do not cover any strict rules or rituals. This means travelers who are enjoying homestay can feel casual to eat with the local families. The keys are to remain polite, respectful and show a good manner. Of course, people like talking during the mealtime to say about the weather, school, work, or news. Besides, some families might prefer watching television.
The eating habits of the Vietnamese have changed in recent times due to economic development and easy access to processed food and snacks. Whatever, fish sauce is still the major condiment in Vietnam. Some of the first impressions on the local dining habits might be that they are sitting on the plastic stool to have a meal from the street vendors. So, travel and figure out more!