If you've never been to Vietnam, you're probably curious about the cuisine. Vietnamese food is a fantastic way to experience the culture of Vietnam in a way that is not only educational but tasty, as well. Whether or not you have actually visited Vietnam, there are a number of ways you can explore the cuisine.
1. Visit a Vietnamese Restaurant
If you're in America, consider visiting a local Vietnamese restaurant. Go with a friend to a place she recommends or simply check out a place in your local yellow pages. Remember to explore and be adventurous. Don't simply order the chicken because it seems "safe." Trying new foods is a time to do just that - try new foods. Pick something random or let the waitress pick for you.
2. Eat with a Vietnamese friend
Do you have Vietnamese friends? Ask about their culture and food! Ask a friend if you can come over for dinner or come the next time she visits her grandma to try some authentic Vietnamese dishes.
3. Visit Vietnam
Perhaps the best way to taste Vietnam is to actually visit and explore on one of those Vietnam tours. Check out local marketplaces, restaurants, and groceries. Explore and try everything you come across. Don't be afraid to test out new things or try a taste of something that looks a little scary. Remember, trying new things is the only way to find out what you like and what you don't.
4. Take a Vietnamese cooking class
If you live near a college, check out one of their cooking classes. Your local community center may also be a great place to find local Vietnamese cooking classes. These classes will not only teach you about Vietnamese cuisine but will give you a chance to try cooking some yourself. If you're the adventurous type, this is a fantastic way to jump feet-first into Vietnamese food.
5. Visit a Vietnamese grocery store
A Vietnamese grocery is a fantastic way to explore new foods, ingredients, and cooking styles. Grab a recipe off the Internet and head to your local Vietnamese grocery with a list of things you need. Chances are, you'll be able to find everything you need and start trying Vietnamese food firsthand. While you may not make the most authentic food the first time you cook, you'll quickly improve the more you practice.
Overall, there are many ways you can learn to taste Vietnam. Whether you actually get to visit Vietnam and try the food firsthand or you cook it yourself in America, don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone to truly taste and try the fantastic food that Vietnam has to offer.
Photos via Flickr Creative Commons