HCM CITY — Specialities from all parts of the country are being transported to HCM City ahead of Tết (the Lunar New Year).
At the Green Tết –Vietnamese gifts fair being held at 12 Phùng Khắc Khoan in District 1 from January 17 to 22, nearly 1,000 local specialties and agricultural products, many with geographical indications, are being sold.
They include safe vegetables and fruits that meet food hygiene and safety standards, cashew nut, candied fruits, pork and beef paste, spring rolls, rice, vermicelli, dried bamboo shoot, miến dong (vermicelli made of arrowroot starch), spices from the northern mountainous region such as mắc khén (wild pepper grown by the ethnic Thái), hạt dỗi, mắc mật, and traditional fish sauce.
Đinh Tuyết Nhung, head of the Bắc Kạn Union of Agricultural Medicine and Community Tourism Co-operatives, said her union, which represents start-ups and co-operatives in Bắc Cạn Province, has brought specialities from her locality and elsewhere in the northern mountains such as Mạy Thốc dried bamboo shoot, dried forest shiitake mushroom, Ba Bể sticky rice, miến dong, and other products.
“The volume of our products is not large but their quality is very consistent. We hope that more customers in the city get to know about our Bắc Kạn specialities.
“We bring to the fair two tonnes of sticky rice. Unlike other sticky rice varieties, our sticky rice is cultivated on terraced fields and takes 10 months to grow. So it has a very special taste and aroma.”
Nguyễn Thị Hạnh of District 3 said: “I bought more than VNĐ1 million (US$43.2) worth of sticky rice, dried bamboo shoot, dried forest shiitake mushrooms, and candied fruits for Tết.”
A cosmopolitan hub since people from all over the country come to live and work in it, HCM City has huge demand for regional specialities, especially on occasions like Lunar New Year.
Shops selling northern speciality foods on Điên Biên Phủ Street and Chu Mạnh Trinh Street in District 1 and Trần Quốc Toản Street in District 3 are also crowded these days.
Their popular products include kohlrabi, cabbage, garland chrysanthemum, green onion, carrot and other vegetables, alcohol made of sticky rice, and Vân village wine.
Dried northern specialities include pig tongue-shaped dried bamboo shoot from Tuyên Quang, vầu dried bamboo shoot, vermicelli made of arrowroot starch, shiitake mushroom, pork pie, Hàng Than green rice flake cake, Tân Cương tea green bean cake, and candied lotus seeds from Hưng Yên.
Processed foods include giò thủ (pig’s head paste), thịt đông (braised frozen pork), bamboo shoot pickles, bánh chưng (square-shaped glutinous rice cake filled with green bean paste and pork), chè kho (soft green lentil cake), and Vũ Đại traditional braised fish.
The specialities are more expensive than during normal days and their prices could increase further before Tết, according to shop owners.
Canh orange was sold at around VNĐ100,000 a kilogramme on January 17, but shops said the price would go up further before Tết.
All fruits and vegetables from the north are transported to the city by air, which pushes up prices but ensures they are fresh, they said.
Nguyễn Hồng Vân in Bình Thạnh District, who moved from Hà Nội to HCM City 10 years ago and was buying some northern specialities for Tết at a shop on Điện Biên Phủ Street in District 1, said: “I come here sometimes on normal days to buy northern specialities such as mung bean cake and tea for my father.
“My family will not return to my hometown this Tết. So today I have come here to buy pig tongue-shaped dried bamboo shoots, vermicelli made of arrowroot starch, braised frozen pork, dried pork skin, and some fruits and vegetables so that my family can enjoy northern Tết foods.”
Besides northern specialities, people in the city can also find specialities from southern and central regions such as Cà Mau dried shrimp with/without shell, Sóc Trăng pía cake, Hòa Lộc mango, Năm Roi pomelo, Lai Vung mandarin, Trà Vinh bánh Tét, dried snakehead fish, Nghệ An beef paste, and others.
Supermarkets, traditional markets, social networks, and shopping portals also sell all kinds of regional specialities. — VNS
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