Friday, April 24, 2009


What I won't miss about Vietnam (volume four): small things. Too-small things, actually. One of the reasons it's difficult for me to cook family-sized meals here is that I'm deeply lazy and also going out to eat is both easier and more exciting. Also, it's difficult to gather together the groceries I'll need, since the produce is across downtown, the fishes are in the market, and the dry goods are in a District Three Co-op. Even if I was dedicated enough to do all this running around, I'd still be buying tiny, one-day portions of each item from teensy shelves at minuscule stores. I stock the dinky larder and pint-sized refrigerator with half-sized things. Milk and juice come in stackable one-liter boxes. Rice and beans in sandwich bags. Cereal boxes are the size of hardback books. This makes it nearly impossible to buy enough groceries for several days at once. I can handle running weekly errands, but hitting three stores every day is too much. Luckily, restaurants are very affordable--but the plague of smallness persists. Not portion sizes, mind. This is a service town--portions are large and come on massive plates or in cavernous bowls. But restaurant tables are all unbelievably small so they can be wedged into the crannies of each tiny dining room. The size of coffee shop tables: the round ones like an extra-large pizza, the square ones a Scrabble board. These come littered with small things which nevertheless steal space from those huge plates and bowls: bamboo placemats, dishes of salt and pepper and chili, toothpicks, flower vases, sugar, fish sauce, chopstick blocks, soup spoon holders, cocktail menus, burning candles. Specialty restaurants have additional things. It took me weeks to realize this country doesn't have napkin dispensers. It came as a relief. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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