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A spot with a definitive French aptitude like no different, it’s one of many first locations of my ‘revenge journey’ collection

A spot with a definitive French aptitude like no different, it’s one of many first locations of my ‘revenge journey’ collection

A kind of indelible legacies the pandemic has bestowed upon me — in addition to the heightened sense of tension and a borderline pathological cleanliness OCD — is a light gluten intolerance. “ Anathema to an itinerant meals and journey author,” one would possibly say. An emphatic “ no large deal” is what I’m identified to shoot that down with today. There’s a gluten-free different to absolutely anything edible. Sure, even good outdated beer!

However lengthy earlier than the culinary world sought out such benign alternate options to cater to us gluten-challenged souls, the Vietnamese had an ace up their sleeves for an entire different set of causes. However extra on that a bit later.

I discover myself in Vietnam today. It’s one of many first locations of my ‘revenge journey’ collection that I’ve deliberate for the subsequent couple of months. A spot with a definitive French aptitude like no different.

As one would possibly know, from 1887 till the Geneva Accord of 1954, Vietnam was a part of French ‘Indochine’, an unlimited colonial stronghold which additionally included Laos and Cambodia. Even now, nearly 70 years later, it’s simple to search out French influences all through the area, albeit with a couple of twists.

Women cook and sell banh mi sandwiches on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

Girls cook dinner and promote banh mi sandwiches on the streets of Ho Chi Minh Metropolis.
| Picture Credit score: Getty Photos

As an example, my quotidian breakfast staple is a yummy, toasted bánh mi sandwich. A mini baguette-like sandwich full of a curious assortment of French fillings and condiments like roast pork, pork pâté, and mayonnaise that pair fantastically with sometimes Asian ones like candy chilli sauce and recent coriander fronds.

Ethereal and porous

Nevertheless it’s the crusty baguette that places all of it into higher perspective for me. What began off as regular-sized French baguette made with de rigueur wheat flour originally of the colonial rule morphed into the mini gluten-free Vietnamese model bread made utilizing rice flour (a South East Asian staple) — imparting the bread with a extra ethereal and porous texture like by no means earlier than.

There are French-style bakeries all through Vietnam, serving not simply the bánh mi in its numerous permutations and mixtures, but in addition the beloved French espresso. One other shock within the in any other case tea-obsessed continent.

Additionally distinct from its different, speedy South East Asian neighbours is the trendy day Vietnamese script. This one with its base within the Roman script was promoted by the French colonial authorities after it was created by Alexandre de Rhodes, a Jesuit missionary.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is based architecturally on Paris’s hallowed Notre Dame.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon relies architecturally on Paris’s hallowed Notre Dame.
| Picture Credit score: Wiki Commons

Faith too — and extra particularly Roman Catholic structure — is one other vestige of the French previous. With their hovering arches, opera house-like balconies and grand columns, a few of the most lovely buildings are the church buildings I discover within the nation’s capital Hanoi and its business capital Ho Chi Minh Metropolis. From the St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi to the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, each are based mostly architecturally on Paris’s hallowed Notre Dame.

However Catholicism isn’t the one organised type of faith the Vietnamese co-opted from the French. I’m speaking about maybe the least identified faith on the planet. One referred to as Caodaism that I probability upon as I journey south alongside this slim strip of a rustic.

Based in southern Vietnam in 1926, Caodaism is a monotheistic faith that’s a curious amalgamation of assorted philosophies. With the phrase “ cao” which means “excessive” and “ dai” which means “peace”, its underpinnings are a fusion of the secular and non secular philosophies of the East and the West. Apparently, its tenets are additionally based mostly on sure codes believed to be revealed to the faith’s founder Ngo Van Chieu, who was a district head of the French administration in Vietnam, by way of a collection of séance messages ranging from 1921.

Worshippers at a Cao Dai temple in southern Vietnam‘s Tây Ninh province, known as the birthplace of Caodaism.

Worshippers at a Cao Dai temple in southern Vietnam‘s Tây Ninh province, often called the birthplace of Caodaism.
| Picture Credit score: Getty Photos

Mentioned to have over 4.4 million training Caodaists, it’s Vietnam’s third largest faith after Buddhism and Roman Catholicism. What’s really novel about Caodaism is that it combines parts from lots of the world’s main religions, together with Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, in addition to Jainism!

Historic personalities

One other fascinating side of Caodaism is that amongst its pantheon of saints, historic personalities (largely French, no shock!) corresponding to Joan of Arc and Louis Pasteur too discover agency footing. However essentially the most distinguished and revered of all of them is Victor Hugo since he gave many teachings and in addition the textual content of a variety of necessary prayers to Caodaism.

In actual fact, it’s mentioned that he even predicted that he would change into the prophet of a brand new faith to merge European and Asian mysticism. Philosophical foresight at its finest, no?

The Mumbai-based author and restaurant reviewer is enthusiastic about meals, journey and luxurious, not essentially in that order.


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