While in Vietnam I read a book by a Viet Kieu--an ethnicVietnamese who is living outside the country--who returns to do a long bicycle trip

He bemusedly comments on "these skinny people who are obsessed with food" 

It's really true; they eat anywhere, anytime



Exhibit A could be the Old Quarter in Hanoi


Families crowd the sidewalks with their little stools



women carrying a portable restaurant on their ganh (wooden shoulder carrier) set up shop on any sidewalk


put noodles and a few veggies in a colander

immerse in the always-boiling vat of water



cook for a coupla minutes



a bit of seasoning



and voila, happy diner



then enjoy a brief respite


or maybe you've got a mobile noodle shop right on your motorbike

there seems to be no limit to people's ability monopolize a sidewalk

here, the 6pm crowd of drinkers and diners near St. Joseph cathedral in Hanoi

so pedestrians have to walk in the street



You see those dinky red and blue stools they're sitting on?


That's the most ubiquitous piece of furniture in Vietnam



Where else did I see these?

On the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai

At one point the train was flooded with passengers who had no seats, and this stack of stools was pressed into service

the aisles were totally clogged



even the dishwashing expands to all available space


yes, that's happening on the sidewalk, on a busy Hanoi street



near my Hanoi guest house I'm searching for breakfast


I see people crowded around...



...this woman, who takes a sheet of paper

slaps a banana leaf on it



grabs a handful of sticky rice from her basket


adds some seasoning




and I've got my breakfast



oh, you prefer saffron rice?





it seems anyone can set up a little food operation on the sidewalk in front of their shop

Ngoc, for example



(Old Quarter, Hanoi)



makes and sells hoi cakes


a rice-based, slightly sweet confection



along with Thanh (also slightly sweet)



Two days in a row I had lunch at Hien's sidewalk stand




(Old Quarter, Hanoi)



gelatinous rice with meat stuffing



and a fertilized egg...



i.e., one with a nearly-developed embryo



and one morning this lady whipped up a veggie omelet for me



At the market in Hue, the ad hoc eateries go on forever



each proprietress calling to you to Come, Come



It doesn't take much to open a restaurant

Grill, utensils, a few slabs of meat

And, oh yes, a bunch of tiny plastic stools

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