As I am currently staying in Vietnam, one of my favourite daily activities is to try different things at supermarkets. There is nothing like the thrill to discover a new product when you are in a foreign land.
Here is a selection of common things to be found in Vietnamese supermarkets.
1) Dried mango
Tropical fruit and tropical fruit juices are of exceptional quality. I especially love mangoes, a fruit you can eat in many forms, freshly cut, raw in mango salads, freshly squeezed, and dry. This is especially handy if you are sunbathing at the beach and don’t have a knife, because it’s already sliced up and not sticky. It’s delicious on the go too, if you need a sugar boost. European supermarkets should stock up on dried mango and mango toffee.
2) Tropical fruit ice-cream
Happiness is all about a long stroll slurping an ice-cream. There are definitely business opportunities for making artisanal Italian ice-cream in Vietnam, as I have not seen any. Until Piaggio Ape cars dot the busy streets, you can get a good surrogate at the local supermarket. They sell delicious industrial products in various flavours such as mango, melon and banana.
3) Jackfruit chips
The fruit named after William Jack (1795–1822), a Scottish botanist who worked for the East India Company in Sumatra, was cultivated in India 3000 to 6000 years ago. (1) The flavour of the ripe fruit is comparable to a combination of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana. (2)
It is a very versatile food and is also used in curries and as a substitute for meat, and can be eaten fresh or cooked and its seeds if roasted can be used as an alternative to chocolate aroma. They sell them at every street corner in Vietnam. Jackfruit chips are sold at supermarkets and they are an excellent snack.
If you have a sweet tooth, and don’t care about diabetes, Vietnam is your place. Even the typical Vietnamese style coffee with condensed milk is super sweet, and refreshing. Whenever you order coffee, they also bring tea, which is probably the only drink they serve without sugar. They sell all sorts of soft cakes to go with it, which are delightful but also addictive.
A visit to the supermarket would not be complete without getting a drink, and one is spoilt for choice. There are fruit juices of all sorts, some mixed with milk or coconut milk, some with extra nutrients and if you need an energy boost to adventure yourself in the deadly traffic you should try Bacchus. Think of Red Bull, the taste is horrible but you will be wide-eyed for hours, ready to tackle the annoying traffic. If the Vietnamese police would fine scooters and cars for their reckless driving and mad honking, they would make billions of dongs, the local currency. An energy drink can be a life saviour, literally.
(1)Preedy, Victor R.; Watson, Ronald Ross; Patel, Vinood B., eds. (2011). Nuts and Seeds in Health and Disease Prevention (1st ed.)
(2)Janick, Jules; Paull, Robert E. The encyclopedia of fruit & nuts. p. 155