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Convolvulus and aubergine

An old folksong thus depicted the nostalgia of a peasant who finds himself far from home and thinking of his dear ones:
“Far from home I think of my native hamlet
Of the bowl of boiled convovulus
Of the aubergine bathed in soya sauce
I think of the woman who works in the field or shine
And scopes water by the roadside morning and afternoon."
Thus, most vivid in his mind is the image of his faithful and hard-working wife and the frugal medís they used to eat together at home.
In a popular cheo opera, a young succesful mandarin, Duong Le on whom his profligate friend Luu Binh, impoverished and desperate, calls for help, thinks of a way to goad him into frugality and hard work - by hurting his pride. He offers his men to serve Luu Binh a meal composed of cold nee and salted aubergine.
Thus convolvulus and aubergine are often present or alluded to in our folklore. In the delta of the Red River they are the staple foods, besides rice and other cereals, of the farmers.
Even in the towns, the convolvulus rau muong is a well liked vegetable especially in summer when the weather is hot and oppressive and people suffer from constant thirst. At dinner, they would enjoy boiled rau muong, which they dip in nuoc mam (fish brine) or tuong (soya sauce), and drink with relish the liquid in which it is cooked, which may be flavoured with lemon juice, tomato, green mango, or the acid fruit of the tamarind (me) and pancovia (sau). Good cooks prepare convolvulus in many ways: it can be boiled with fresh water crab or shrimp, flavoured with ginger, etc. Cut into thin strips it may be made into a crisp and delicious salad. This twining plant grows at the surface of ricefields and ponds. The best strain is found in Son Tay. However, when autumn arrives, its stem grows coarse and fibrous. Hence, this ironical folk saying: “When the 9th month comes, the daughter-in-law at dinner will gladly leave all the convolvulus to her mother." Nevertheless, in his dream of a world of abundance and well being, the farmer of ancient Viet Nam used to evoke “a pond covered with rau muong and a ceramic jar filled with tuong (soya sauce).”
Aubergines (ca) salted in a ceramic jar, constitute the equivalent of canned food for modest Vietnamese homes. There are many kinds of this vegetable: ca bat (bowl sized aubergine), ca phao (firecracker aubergine, a smaller sized kind, thus called perhaps because it makes a small cracking sound when cut into with the teeth), ca Nghe (which tastes best and is grown mostly in Nghe An province), ca dai de (testicles of billy goats, thus named perhaps because of its colour and shape). Ca bat is often served with roast soya paste, fat pork and tomatoes. However, it is in its salted form that aubergine is most popularly known. It even takes on a symbolic connotation of faithful companionship in difficult circumstances, as suggested in this popular saying: “Salted aubergines lie neglected in a comer of the larder, but one is always glad to have it available when one’s pockets are empty.”

See more about the dish of Vietnam with us through Vietnam beach holiday Mui Ne
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Update : 12-07-2017

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