Museum celebrates cuisine of resistance war

Dishes that helped imprisoned revolutionaries and liberation soldiers survive to fight during the country’s resistance war were introduced to tourists, students and soldiers at the War Remnants Museum in HCM City on 7 June 2011

The Food and Drink in the Resistance War exhibition was organised by the city’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the War Remnant Museum.

Ten cooks in the army, former political prisoners, conscripted labourers and veterans guided visitors skills to prepare dishes which are “at once tasty and simple, and in conformity with the circumstances of Viet Nam Resistance War,” said Huynh Ngoc Van, director of the museum.

Dishes include roasted groundnuts with unrefined salt, dried rice, fried banana skin with salt, bindweed pickles, boiled cassava and batata, rice balls with braised anchovies, cylindrical glutinous rice cakes, three-cornered patties, grilled snakehead fish or shrimp. Nguyen Thi Cam Tien, a female former political prisoner in former Sai Gon regime’s Con Dao Prison, brought to the show the dish that she called kim cham xao (fried enoki mushrooms).

“It actually is dried banana skin,” Tien said.

“Relatives visited us with bananas. We dried up banana skin after eating the flesh, then tore it into long pieces,” she added. “When we needed food, we fried it with salt.”

Tien said the name for roasted groundnuts with unrefined salt was trung rong ro ti (roasted dragon egg) and roasted rice, com me que huong (rice flakes of the mother land).

“The cooker was made from a milk can and firewood from rag wrapped tightly in nylon packing, but we all thought optimistically of the day of liberty,” Tien said.

The dish of rice balls served with braised anchovies were introduced by two former guerillas Nguyen Thi Khoi and Pham Thi Nang.

“The dish is easy to prepare and take with you,” Khoi said.

She said the dish could last for four days, and the soldier only needed to cut off the skin to eat the flesh, if it got moldy.

In addition, cylindrical glutinous rice cakes and three-cornered patties were used a great deal during the resistance war because “they were easy to carry, lasted a long time, and could be used to hide ammunition and documents,” a former secret liaison, Duong Thi Can, said.

“The programme is expected to help visitors feel the hard life of Vietnamese soldiers in the resistance war, sympathise deeply with their sacrifice, and appreciate the pride of the great creations of the Vietnamese army and people,” Huynh Ngoc Van said.

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