eats up culinary tourism
native: Visitors to the Mekong Delta village of My Khanh can
spend an evening eating with a local family. VNA/VNS Photo Trang
Delta natives often buy fresh produce at floating markets in
Phong Dien and have chefs prepare it for them. VNS Photo Anh
Mixing tourism and
gastronomical pleasure, visitors have long-found Vietnamese cuisine to be
world-class. Thanks to the popularity of Vietnamese restaurants and food
festivals abroad, the country’s delicious dishes are one of the many reasons
foreigners choose to spend their holidays here. Every year the number of
tourists increases, and due to a surge in popularity, a new type of tourism is
on the rise: gastronomical travel. The food tourism industry is set to take off,
thanks to a few dedicated pioneers.
Previously the Fiditour
Company, working with the Saigontourist Agency, organised eco-tours that were
combined with lessons and information on authentic Vietnamese cuisine during Tet
(Lunar New Year festival). Tourists took part in preparing meals with the help
of members of a Vietnamese family and then enjoyed the food they had just
prepared. In response to an ever-increasing demand for Vietnamese cooking
lessons, the Saigontourist Travel Agency recently started offering trans-Viet
Nam journeys in combination with classes on Vietnamese gastronomy. The first
one, a two-week long programme, occurred at the end of last September and the
Australians who participated were full of rave reviews. Besides excursions to
various cities and towns, they enjoyed food typical of the country’s three
"In working out a
tour that combines cooking, it’s necessary to know the characteristics of
every dish," said Truong Hoang Phuong, head of the business section of the
company. "This is an effective way to promote Vietnamese gastronomy.
Tourists are given the chance to experience the lives of the locals: they stay
with Vietnamese families, go to the market to choose suitable ingredients and
cook dishes in the traditional way. This not only offers a unique experience,
but encourages people to stay for a long time," he concluded.
Since 2002, Saigontourist
has organised approximately twenty groups of foreigners for tours of Viet Nam.
Some were able to combine sight-seeing with in-depth, hands-on cooking lessons.
Upon completion of the cooking courses, participants received a certificate from
the specialised school that they attended.
Nguyen Dzoan Cam Van, a
well-known chef who teaches cooking on HCM City Television, has instructed many
foreigners on how to cook Vietnamese food for the last 10 years. Her home
(344/493, Cach Mang Thang Tam Road, Ward 5, Tan Binh District) has 25 stoves
where she can teach as many as 35 learners at the same time. Every month on
average she instructs 10 to 15 foreign groups, some with only two people and
others as large as 30. She usually leads her students to different urban markets
such as Ben Thanh, Binh Tay and An Dong to gather the necessary items for their
lessons. This introduces them not only to the ingredients, but also the cultural
features of the Vietnamese market. Thanks to her fluency in English, her lessons
have been a great success.
attracts many foreigners by virtue of its healthy qualities; little fat and
numerous vegetables and spices," Van told us. "In particular, the
clever and artistic presentation of the various ingredients on the plate is
beautiful and appealing." — VNS