Culture and Beliefs

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The book unveils Vietnamese cuisine in the 19th century
Date: 16/11/2023

The book entitled “Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam” by Erica J. has just been released. It reveals the untold stories of 19th-century Vietnamese food and drink. “Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam” has been translated into Vietnamese and recently published in Việt Nam by HCM City General Publishing House.
The picture shows the cover of "Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam" that is published by Ho Chi Minh City General Publishing House.

Vietnamese cuisine has undergone significant changes over the centuries, shaped by various political and historical factors. In her book, Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam, Erica J. Peters delves into the culinary history of Vietnam, shedding light on how Vietnamese people used food and alcohol to establish their power and social position during the 19th century.

The main setting is from 1802 to the 1920s. Most of the book tells the story of how people (villagers, women, highlanders, soldiers, craftsmen, mandarins, businessmen, etc.), and used food to improve their position in society.

A part of the book examines the influence of Chinese culture and cuisine on Vietnamese cuisine through the settlement of migrant Chinese in the country. In fact, during the 1870s and 1880s, it was a commonly held belief in southern Vietnam that male Chinese chefs were extremely skilled in the kitchen.

In addition, the book also analyses how people in the countryside and in the cities responded to the changes they faced in daily life under colonial rule. As a result, it shows how the French and Vietnamese encountered each other's cuisines during this period.

In addition to the close encounters regarding cuisine and ethnicity, the book also mentions food clashes that demonstrate the high spirit of the Vietnamese beyond the realm of food and drink.

“What I hope readers will take away is that what we eat is never fixed in time. Every day we can choose to eat something new, learn about a new culture, or share food with someone we're interested in, who likes some food we're not yet familiar with. Every day is an opportunity for a new flavor, or an old favorite, and we can learn a lot about ourselves and each other by talking about the foods we love.” Peters writes.

Source: Can Tho News - Translated by Hoang Dat

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