Lately I've been thinking about how much Mike does for me, for us, and how I often am the selfish one in the relationship. It has given me pause and I've resolved to be a more equal player in this duo. Now, don't get me wrong, I will not start playing video games and watching Star Wars, but I can certainly bring myself to try some of his favourite foods. It will make our date nights that much more interesting and maybe I'll even come to enjoy the "weird" food that he loves so much. Maybe.
This brings me to our latest dining adventure - Vietnamese!
As some of you know my uncle has limited mobility due to MS but what he sure can do is eat. So one nice spring day Druncle (Drunk Uncle - as we've come to call him for is affinity to Corona and Tequila) decides to invite us over for dinner. The only catch is that I've got to go pick up the food. He has a real hankering for Viet and Mike is stoked! It's probably one of his favourite foods and he doesn't get to have it often. But this afternoon I'm the one who has to order it and pick it up. Have you ever read a Vietnamese Menu? Holy shit! What is all this stuff? There's numbers and categories and combos! What the hell do I do? How do I know what to get? What if it's not enough food? What if its too much food?
My brain hurts trying to figure this out. I'm constantly texting Mike to ask what to get, probably driving him crazy with my twenty-one questions. But I don't want to screw this up. Him and Druncle are excited for dinner so I can't make a mistake and order fish eyeballs or something. Druncle says he doesn't care at all what I get for him and his wife, I'll call her LG (short for Little Girl as she is much younger than my uncle). I'm online reading menus, I'm using Wikipedia to figure out the difference between Spring Rolls, Fresh Rolls, Short Rolls, Long Rolls, Skinny Rolls, Fat Rolls (now I'm just making stuff up). I don't F-ing know. What I do know is that time is ticking, and I've got to get to the restaurant. What a daunting task this all is. I tell Mike that I'm feeling very overwhelmed by this process and he agrees. "No doubt" he says "Call me if you need help, and give your uncle shit for making you do this". Ha Ha Ha.
I'm at the counter placing my order, reading the texts word for word to the man/owner guy. He's laughing with me as I tell him I've never eaten this, and don't know how to order it properly. The only thing that I know for sure is I have to get extra extra extra Hoisin sauce. Easy enough, the gentleman was very helpful and patient, and I start my wait. Read the paper while it was being cooked and then we're all set! It's only one bag of food, so I'm a big surprised. It seemed like it would be more than that. For those of you who eat Viet this is what I ordered:
2 Rice Vermicelli
1 Beef Sate
(if any of you are doing the math- that's 3 entrees, but we have 4 people eating. I knew going into this that I was not going to eat very much of anything, so I opted out of buying a meal for myself as it will most likely go to waste)
Mike meets me at their house and away we go. He is in charge of assembling the dishes - adding the sauces, portioning it out, while I go get drinks. I feed LG and Mike feeds Druncle and we eat intermittently. It's always been this way and our system works pretty well. Keep in mind that I've been there for about half an hour before Mike arrives so the food isn't as fresh as we would have liked.
I hold up a long stick thing - turns out it's a spring roll - and examine it closely. I have a "furrowed" brow as Mike calls it and he asks me what I'm doing. They are all staring at me intently waiting to see my reaction. I take a deep breath and bite into it.
Oh man that's yucky. The texture inside is so mushy and gross. The flavour is not exactly tasty either. I get the pork, and the carrot, but there is a spice in here that is horrible. Everyone in the room is laughing at me, when it dawns on Druncle that I don't like it. He asks me if I like Vietnamese and I explain that this was the first - and last - time I've had it. He felt bad for getting dinner that I didn't like but I assured him that its ok. This was what he wanted and I'm just glad he's happy. He was grinning ear to ear with each passing bite. I offer a bite to LG and she seems to enjoy it. Far more than me anyway!
Next up is the Fresh Rolls. WTF is that!!!??? I cannot describe the shape of this thing well enough to do it justice, but the running joke is that they are called "Donkey Dicks". They are stuffed with chicken, sprouts, lettuce and maybe some other stuff. It also was disgusting. I made an even worse face when I took a bite of this. Hysterics ensued watching me chew and force this one down. It was dipped in the Hoisin sauce, which in my uneducated opinion was the worst part! Kind of sour, bitter and dark brown it actually did nothing for the roll. Once I got over that part I took another bite with no sauce. It was just blah. Not bad, not good, but really just no flavour. It tasted like lettuce and was crunchy. That was its only redeeming quality. I don't mind lettuce.
My next attempt was Rice Vermicelli. For the unfamiliar this is basically rice noodles with sprouts, lettuce, carrot, pork and spring rolls. Essentially it is all the things that we had as our appetizer put on top of each other. Strange. Now let me inform you that this was the dish Mike recommended I try. He felt that it was the safest way to branch out. They do offer plain white rice dishes, but that would be cheating, and not count as something new. He passed me the container and I picked around at it for a while, trying to garner up some courage. Here goes nothing!
What the hell did I just eat?! Of all the dishes this was by far the worst. The pork was tough and chewy, the sprouts and lettuce tasted just like they should but what made it so terrible was the sauce. I wasn't aware of this but on top of the dish is fish sauce. I looked at Mike with horror on my face when he explained what it was and I'm pretty sure Druncle choked on his mouthful because he was laughing at me so hard. LG saw my reaction and decided that she also didn't want to participate in the grossness, so she stuck to finishing the rest of the spring rolls. Mike was enjoying his sate, and Druncle was chowing down on his dinner and I was pondering how in the world Mike is going to convince me to try Viet again.
He is very adamant that when you eat it in the restaurant it's way better than take out. He also told me that if I go try it again that I can cheat and get the plain chicken and rice dish. Druncle was glad that I gave it a go and I was happy that he enjoyed it so much. He wouldn't stop raving about it, and how glad he was to get some Vietnamese in his belly! I have to clarify this point though. None of my hatred was due to the restaurant. It's a great little place in Shawnessy that has good food, just not food that I like. Maybe if I muster up enough courage to go again I'll try the location that Mike likes the best, and maybe I'll enjoy it a tiny bit more than this attempt.
But for now I'm off the Vietnamese train. As I got in the car leaving Druncle's house I had a really important phone call to make.
T: Hi, can I get a medium pizza for pick up please?