The Supermarket Chronicles VI: Scarves and Snacks

Yep- Vietnam strikes again.  We were touring a silk factory, watching women laboriously boil silkworm cocoons in large, metal tanks, then expertly thread the cocoons onto a spinning machine.  Doing so, the cocoons bob and spin like tops floating at the water’s surface as their silk quickly unravels onto the spool above.  What’s left is the brown, alien looking pupae, which are skimmed from the surface and set aside.  I asked Mr. Chien what happens to the pupae once the process is complete.  You know that feeling when you’re shutting a locked car door while looking at the car keys laying on the driver seat?  As my mouth was asking Mr. Chien the question, my brain was screaming to shut up.

“We eat them as a snack,”  Mr. Chien said.  Of course you do.

Quickly I changed the subject to the next stage of silk production, the weaving machines, but the jinx had already been placed.  On our way out of the factory, just as I started to feel safe, I encounter this at the door:

Not roasted peanuts

Not roasted peanuts

Damn you, Supermarket Chronicles!  I liked this series better when I wasn’t doing any eating.

(Actually, I ate a few.  Warm and salted with a cold beer, they wouldn’t have been half bad.)

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The Mainland Trilogy 2: Vietnam

IMG_0991I’ll admit it.  There are a number of places I’ve wanted to see in Southeast Asia, and Vietnam has never been a top priority.  In this region of the world, touring Vietnam is currently very fashionable, and despite the historical significance of the country for me as an American and the positive feedback we’ve heard from friends who have visited, it has never been on my radar.  I think part of the reason for my indifference was I knew nothing about where to go or what to do, so when Sarah announced Vietnam was one of our destinations this trip, I had no idea what to expect. Continue reading