Ok I am from Thailand and I love fish sauce too. I chuckled reading through Chris’ blog, about this smelly yet essential asian cooking ingredient, as I was reminded how many times I introduced the infamous sauce to my American friends. Fish sauce…hell no was what they said in the beginning. Now it’s I need some of that fish sauce to make this dish…score one for fish sauce. I really enjoyed the blog.
The Vietnamese alphabet has no letter F. But it does have the letter PH, as in phở, and also Phan Thiết and Phú Quốc, two places famous for fish sauce. The former is a southeastern coastal city. The latter is both Việt Nam’s biggest island and a district that includes this island and twenty-two smaller ones, tucked under the curve of Cambodia’s coast, in the Gulf of Thailand.
In his book Bút Khảo Về Ăn (Notes on Eating), Dr. Lê Văn Lân relates an old folk tale that he remembers his mother telling him. Here’s my rough translation:
A long time ago, a northern village held a feast-tasting challenge to open the spring celebrations. The banquet table groaned under a spread of the rarest foods of the mountains and seas. Whoever could correctly name the tastiest dish would win. According to tradition, the competitors entered one by one. A single drum…
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