Urbanist Hanoi

A History of Rice Wine, Part 2: A Traditional Craft Slowed to a Trickle

Rose-tinted shades and long swept-back hair tickling the collar of a half-unbuttoned maroon shirt that revealed a dangling peace-sign pendant: at age 27, Minh was the epitome of 70s Saigon cool. More than that, though, he was one the most famous rice wine producers in Long An, a province renowned for its traditional liquor production. After he moved from the big city to his wife’s home village, her family discovered his natural talent and passed on their distilling knowledge which he spent decades perfecting.

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The Alluring Backstory of Chả Rươi, Vietnam’s Slimiest Street Food Character

In the months leading up to winter in Hanoi, when the temperature starts to drop and a chilly breeze blows through the city, anticipation grows for a rare, unique delicacy – the palolo worm omelet, or chả rươi in Vietnamese.

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Vietnam Officially Designates December 12 the Day of Pho

Vietnam has officially marked December 12 the 'Day of Pho' in celebration of the nation's most well-known dish.

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How the Popularity of 'Durian Tours' Is Threatening the Survival of Malaysia's Tigers

In order to meet rising demand for durian, Malaysia plans to convert a large area of the Malayan tiger’s natural habitat into durian plantations.

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A History of Rice Wine, Part 1: Family Stills, Prohibition and Colonial Bloodshed

Fight or flight: to ball fists, rally rag-tag villagers clutching canes, staffs, shovels, sampan oars and bamboo staffs to ward off the bayonet-wielding officers invading your home intending to ransack your cabinets and storerooms, aiming to whisk you off to prison based on the scantest of evidence; or to scoop up your ceramic pot of illegal alcohol, slip out the back door and flee far into the rice fields, where you hide for hours until the rising moon signals safe passage home, hunched deep in the cold muck, shaded by growing stalks and comforted by cricket song. 

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Bánh Pía: The Dreamy Mooncake Alternative With a Side of Teochew History

From sweet treats such as yam paste, chè bạch quả (ginkgo soup) and bite-size pastries to savory staples such as lotus root soup, bánh củ cải (radish cake), cốn xại (pickles) and xá pấu (salted radish) eaten with rice congee, links to my family's Teochew roots were made and consumed through food, both in everyday life and during festive occasions. 

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Foreign Fast Food Chains Report Consecutive Financial Losses in Vietnam

Are foreign fast food brands falling out of favor among locals, or are there other reasons behind their losses?

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De-Shelling Vietnam’s Love of Eating Snails

Snails prove a divisive delicacy in many countries, but in Vietnam, they are perhaps more misunderstood, and arguably more refreshing, than anywhere else in the world.

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Seoul's Museum Kimchikan Takes Visitors Deep Into the World of Kimchi

In 1988, in the same year Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics, even though it had nothing to do with sports, kimchi shone on the international stage for the first time.

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Delving Into the Life Journey of Japanese Grandmas During World War II Through Home-Cooked Food

Grandma's Recipes is a 10-part Japanese documentary series that features the stories of ten different octogenarians and their relationship with cooking.

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The Wild, Wondrous History of Lychee

Treacherous rebels were amassing support in the outskirts while licentious interlopers lounged in teahouses and corruption lurked in every alleyway and courtyard in the capital. The 8th-century Tang Empire’s unparalleled prosperity could have continued for centuries but Emperor Xuanzong instead had allowed it to crumble. Incredibly, lychee fruits lie at the center of the story.

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