Thursday, 30 September 2010

Vietnam - all that grows

Im recently back from a few fantastic weeks in Vietnam and as half my photos are food related Im going to have quite a few posts to put up over the next week or two. I also have a special competition prize carried back from Vietnam which Ill post among the photos so keep an eye out.

The first thing that hit me as our bus left Ho Chi Minh City was how green the countryside was. We arrived towards the end of 5 months of rainy season in the south and every small patch seemed to have something growing on it. Farming is massive in Vietnam and rice not surprisingly is the main crop with more than half the population working to produce rice alone on over 94% of the arable land. I got the feeling that some of the other crops we saw were relatively new attempts at making more money than rice is bringing in.

Over the course of the few weeks I spent 4 days sitting on the back of a motorbike going through the highlands which is where most of the photos here are from. My guide was always amused by my enthusiasm for fruit and only understood when I explained that we cant grow any of what he showed me in Ireland. If you ever get a chance to go to Vietnam its well worth a few days off the beaten track to taste all this fruit straight from the trees!

This is what pepper looks like on a tree, its then taken and dried in the sun before ending up in our mills. There was only the slightest hint of a peppery smell from it.
Its always a bit surprising to me that bananas hang this way around

Possibly Papaya
I had no idea what this was and our guides werent much help at all but fortunately a reader gave the the answer in the comments. Its Bixa Orellana and the pigment from the seeds is used to colour foods (commonly seen as Annato or Achiote in ingredients)
Cocoa beans, I was dying to rob one for some further investigation but it was such a small plantation that I couldnt.
Coffee, still a while to go before roasting
Guess what these are? They look so different by the time they make it to our shores
Passion fruit just picked and as addictive as nicotine
Green tea, still very green
Dragonfruit,  a cactus that is trained to grow around cement posts
which produces these beautiful flowers
and the most succulent and  sweet fruit
Corn being dried out in the sun
Finally rice, loads of it:
Rice as far as the eye can see
which is picked by hand and fed through a machine to remove the husk from the plant
Which is then left to dry before de-husking and milling


  1. Great post. Those bananas just don't look right. :)

    Is the white fruit with black seeds the Dragon Fruit? We encountered it in Barcelona for the 1st time and didn't know what it was.

  2. yes, thats it. I had tasted it before in Europe and always thought it was very bland until I had one in Vietnam

  3. Great post Deirdre and brilliant photos.
    Is the spikey fruit with the red seeds a bixa orellan ;-)

  4. Thats it Mary, post will be updated with the name!

  5. will be getting my kids to have a look at these pics, see bananas do grow on trees!


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