Interesting Cultural Background of Vietnam’s Most Well-Known Exotic Food

the larvae of coconut worms dipped in chili fish sauce

According to many travelers, several types of food in Vietnam are genuine challenges. But all of them have a story behind. Today, let’s discover some of the Vietnam exotic food and their culture background!

1.    Dog and cat meat

Among all of the Vietnam exotic food, dog and cat meat are the most common ones. Various people in the world, especially those who live in Western countries, find this extremely frightening. And many of them may wonder why Vietnamese can be so merciless and kill the animals that they consider friends.


Dog meat (Source: Google)

In fact, Vietnamese has never hated dogs and cats. They always think of these animals as loyal friends. The reason why eating them become a habit dates back to the 1940s in Vietnam when wars broke out and famine was everywhere. If people did not starve, they had to live years without meat. To survive, they were forced to eat everything that existed, including dog and cat meat.

Another ground is the spiritual belief of a number of citizens. They reckon that eating dog meat at the end of a month or a year can bring luck. Or in some places, such as Thai Binh Province, having cat meat is believed to bring wealth and social status. Although these sound irrational, they are the customs and habits of numerous people.

Eating dog and cat meat in Vietnam at the moment is a controversial issue. Many pet-lovers are fiercely opposed to this action because it gives a hand to the dog and cat thieves. However, the others regard eating dog and cat meat as an insidious habit as well as a tradition. It is quite difficult to give it up.   

2.    Rats

When visiting mountainous areas in Northern Vietnam or several provinces in Southern Vietnam, you will have a chance to try rat meat. It is an inevitable type finger food in beer restaurants, particularly during harvest seasons. It is the time when rats are in flesh and taste good. This dish takes about 70,000 to 80,000 dongs ($3-$4) in restaurants, which is relatively expensive.


Rat meat (Source: Google)

But it still attracts a large number of travelers every year. In the old times, the local citizens ate rats due to the same reason of starvation as they ate dog and cat meat. It seems that rats contributed an enormous part to their daily meals. Today, these animals are harmful to the crops. If they are not prevented, 30 to 50 percent of the annual output can be damaged.

In some places, such as Di Nau and Canh Nau Commune of Thach That District, rat meat is a crucial dish in weddings and ceremonies. Without them, the events can never be complete.

3.    Insects

Looking at the pictures of processed insects, many tourists may get goosebumps. They are one of the most daring Vietnam exotic food that challenges all of connoisseurs in the world.


Bamboo Worms (Source: Google)

Similar to dog meat, this food is original from wartime. People at that time could eat anything just to fill their stomach and keep them from dying of famine. The most common insects that have become specialties are Sago Grubs, Ants’ Eggs, Stink Bugs, Cicadas, and Bamboo Worms.

Most of them taste buttery and nutty and contain a large number of nutrients. You can come to restaurants in some mountainous provinces of Northern Vietnam, such as Son La or Lao Cai to enjoy this special dish. It takes a lot of courage to try these types of food for the first time. Nonetheless, their flavors are relatively fantastic when you are accustomed to them.

4.    Blood pudding

Blood pudding or blood curd is a unique type of food which can be found only in Vietnam and some Asian countries. Because it is made from animals’ fresh blood mixed with fish sauce and minced meat or bones, blood pudding is considered one of the top 10 most thrilling dishes on the planet.


Blood pudding (Source: Google)

Vietnamese have discovered and enjoyed this food since early time. The ancient people always assumed that blood was a miraculous medicine that could treat any kind of illness. This is probably the reason why the citizens in Vietnam today think of eating blood curd as a routine. Although it has been proven to be dangerous to human health, a lot of people cannot stop consuming it.

Two most common types that can be found in restaurants are duck’s and pig’s blood pudding. The less popular ones are wild goose’s, crab’s, goat’s, snake’s, and lobster’s blood curd. It is very rare to see blood pudding made from dogs and cocks due to their stinking flavors. If you want to enjoy this Vietnam exotic food, it is recommended to be mentally prepared first.

Khanh Huyen



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