I have the chance to travel to Viet Nam. I am Paleo because it helps me, but also because I MUST be. A bit of rice here, some gluten there, etc will definitely make me very sick.
Does anyone have any experiences, advice? I have traveled widely in Central America, South America, Europe & do great as I always rent a place with a kitchen & cook for myself. Viet Nam is a whole new idea for me.
asked byParti (15)
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on August 21, 2013
at 02:06 PM
So...most of vietnam uses rice as the accompaniment for every dish. So if you eat out, because their portions are smaller, order double! I found their pork, chicken and meat to be on par with US prices ($4-$7 per pound) so meat is not the central part of the course. They like their seafood REALLY fresh (like, jumping shrimp and fish) so those will usually be delicious no matter what.
I think it would be great - plan on going to the markets and getting a ton of fruit - durian, mangosteens, lychees, jackfruit, coconut water, bananas, pineapple. It depends on if you're in the north or south, as I remember more bananas and pineapple in the north. They have maybe 4 different kinds of bananas.
Also they have tons of sweet potatoes, tamarind, little beans (if you eat beans), and other fruits that are delicious - great avocadoes and other things I have no idea the name of them.
I think if you're cooking for yourself, it will be fine. I don't think anyone there will understand that bread makes you sick if you try to tell them, so carry this card:
This might help too: http://www.celiactravel.com/stories/gluten-free-eating-in-vietnam/
I haven't found a celiac card that says in Vietnamese, "I cannot eat Rice," so you may want to try searching for that. Expect lots of laughs and funny looks if you use these. It might be tough to cook there, vietnam is a huge culture of going out to eat. But it might be safer to cook in too.
Basically if you buy (chicken) or bo (beef) or tom (shrimp) or shellfish or fish, you won't really go wrong. Rau mong (greens), and anything else you might want will be freely available. I'm a big fan of bamboo from there. fresh is better of course.
I think in vietnam the biggest problem being "paleo" wouldn't be staying away from the gluten, as that's super, super easy. The hardest part of staying "paleo" there might be the vegetable oils and finding that to cook.
I would therefore advise you to buy some pig fat and use that for cooking. They also sell coconut milk that's fresh which is really good.
I'm a little sad for you that you won't get to try the way they cook things - like omelets with crab, steamed eggplant with mint and sauce, even their greens and all the different kinds of herbs and mints. But you can buy a cookbook in English telling you how to cook vietnamese food and take it there and do pretty good representations. Just promise me you'll try Canh Chua Canh (Pineapple, tamarind, and fish soup in a chicken broth) out and bo luc lac (shaking beef) out. I think those are both gluten free.
When you go to the outside markets, take someone with you who speaks vietnamese, otherwise you'll never figure out what you want, how to buy it, and how to get a decent price for anything. there are no prices posted in the outside market, and it's usually better to leave the haggling to someone else. I think they are starting to have supermarkets which you can go to as well, and will have better quality for everything except seafood. So the supermarket might also be a good place to go and where you will be fine shopping, but again, it depends on where you are staying that will dictate whether you have decent access to the supermarket.
on August 20, 2013
at 10:19 PM
Stick to the basics. No grain, dairy, sugar ect. Meat, Veggies, bit of Fruit and some nuts.
For meat, personally I'd avoid pork. Just me though. Good luck!
I'm Viet and people think it's hilarious when I tell them I don't eat rice and that I'm not a huge fan of Pho lol (^-^)v
Safe Travels! Vinny
on August 21, 2013
at 12:00 AM
I envy you the tropical fruit--mmmm. Maybe try picking up a cookbook on Vietnamese cuisine which will list some of the regional dishes so you know what to expect. This will also give you an idea to what extent your paleo lifestyle will be threatened. Then you could learn a few phrases in Vietnamese, such as "Is there gluten in this?" or "Gluten/Bread makes me very sick"...