BA RIA-VUNG TAU – There was chicken tikka from Pakistan, carp soup from Hungary, chicken and lamb kebab from Iran, and tom yum kung from Thailand at the World Food Festival which opened in Vung Tau on Wednesday night.
Thousands of local and international visitors were thronging the stalls lined three kilometres along Thuy Van Avenue, the southern city's main thoroughfare, to sample the bewildering array of flavours.
More than 30 local provinces and an equal number of countries and territories are showcasing their unique foods at the event which will go on until Sunday.
They include high-profile cuisines like French, Chinese, Indian, and Spanish and some lesser known ones like North Korean, Palestinian, Myanmarese and Panamanian.
In the event, it did not take long for the food to run out.
Vietnamese dishes ranged from famous ones like pho (noodles with beef stock), banh xeo (southern pancake with pork, prawns, and vegetables), and bun bo Hue (large noodles with beef served with Hue-style stock) to unusual ones like reu nuong (baked algae), artichoke soup, xoi hat dieu ong tre (sticky rice with cashew baked in bamboo tubes), lon lung nhoi mang hap (steamed mountain pig stuffed with bamboo shoots) besides ethnic Khmer and Cham foods.
Later in the evening, the opening ceremony was marked by colourful costumes and lively dancing and music.
"Culinary art is an integral part of any culture," Hoang Tuan Anh, the minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said.
"Vietnamese cuisine has unique cultural characteristics that should be made known to international guests."
Tran Minh Sanh, chairman of the Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province People's Committee and head of the organisation board, said Taste the World is dedicated to Ha Noi's 1,000th anniversary in October.
Noted musical and cultural researcher Dr Tran Van Khe will lecture on Vietnamese cuisine, while world-renowned American chef Martin Yan will make a presentation on cuisines of the world.
Other highlights include an Eat Fast – Drink Much Contest, a parade of models in traditional Vietnamese costumes on rickshaws, wine tasting and showcase of bartending skills.
Folk arts and games like cock fights, ethnic dances and songs, gongs from the Central Highlands, quan ho (duet love) songs, and other Vietnamese cultural events will complement those from various countries.
A carnival evening tomorrow will see representatives of participating countries and provinces dressed in their traditional costumes take part in a parade along the avenue.
The opening ceremony was attended by provincial leaders, ambassadors and consuls of several countries, and international dignitaries
Around 900,000 local and foreign visitors are expected to attend.
Tickets cost VND50,000 and can be exchanged for food. — VNS