Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flying Fish

In preparation for Celine’s dental surgery we decided to hit the town and enjoy a nice meal. Celine was having her tooth ripped out and a metal screw inserted in preparation for an implant. This was going to be painful for a few days (although not so much during the surgery as she was going to be sedated) and hearty meals were soon to be limited so we went for some tasty Vietnamese food. We opted for fish. The restaurant, on the street at the back of the Ho Chi Minh Museum is a local hang out with a vast menu of varying cuisine. It is by no means flash, plastic chairs and plain tables filling the white tilled floor. Many locals come for the cheap bia hoi and as I have mentioned in previous posts, I can understand why.

The staff have limited to no English so the few words we have learnt came in handy. We decided on grilled trout (There is some approximate English on the menu) which is to share between two people and came to 140,000 dong or around $10AUD. With the beers delivered we started discussing the approaching surgery. Celine was chatting away when she lost thought and looked over my shoulder; her eyes went from curious to shock.

“No, no, no, no. oh my God, he’s going to kill it!”

Celine had just noticed the tank that was holding the fish, and the waiter trying to grab the fish with his bare hands. She also realised that this was the fish we were going to eat. Celine is well aware that the fish we eat have to be killed but seeing our meal just before death does not heighten the eating experience. With his arm stretching into the tank the young Vietnamese server looked around and smiled. He couldn’t understand us but perhaps thought we were enjoying the small spectacle.

“Well don’t hurt it…” Celine started to say, but then stopped. By then she had had time to adjust to the situation. She now realised that the small tank was by no means ideal for the life of such a big fish and that the most humane thing to wish for was for the trout to be out of its misery. We quickly decided to swap seats though so she wouldn’t see what was going on. By this time the server was deep into the tank and latching on to the first available trout. He grabbed one and as he pulled it out the trout trust with all its strength breaking free of his grip and flew towards the ground.


My eyes opened and stared as the server scrambled to pick up the flopping fish.

“What happened? What was that?


“Was that the fish? Is it dead?”

Now here was a tough one. Not knowing what the correct answer was I hesitated, searching her eyes for what she wanted to hear?


“Are you sure? Was it fast? How did they kill it? It didn’t suffer?”


The server walked off, big flapping fish in hands, to the kitchen. My feeble attempt at reassurance ceased as the evidence left the room.

Now both back to our self imposed denial of where food actually comes from we relaxed into our evening. The fish soon arrived will a mixture of vegetables and rice paper. It was delicious. Compliments to the chef!

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