Vietnamese Coffee, with French-roast coffee beans and condense milk, is very popular
Photo by: Calgary Review, Creative Commons
Unlike Western meals which are divided into separate courses like appetizer, main entrée and dessert, Vietnamese meals are typically served all at once and shared. Most Vietnamese families would typically sit on the floor on mats, and each family member had his or her own rice bowl and utensils. For soup dishes, they would use soup spoons; for stir-fried dishes and rice, they would use chopsticks. Spring rolls, and other similar items that are considered finger foods (eaten by hand).
During the mid-afternoon, Vietnamese people would buy snacks from street vendors or food merchants walking from house to house. Popular Vietnamese street foods include spring rolls, pork meatballs and pho (beef noodle soup). Other common snacks are fruits, ice cream and baguette with pâté. The Vietnamese people learned to like these foodstuffs because of cultural influence from other countries—ice cream came with American contact during the Vietnam War and baguette from French colonial influence.
As for beverages, tea (called tra by the locals) is the most common drink in Vietnam. As a matter of fact, most Vietnamese prepare an amount of tea that is enough to last for an entire day. Tea is also served before and after every meal. Most Vietnamese prefer green tea, but there are also black, fermented teas that can be purchased in urban areas. While tea is the drink of choice for most Vietnamese, the country also grows and sells coffee. Coffee, or “caphe,” is a famous Vietnamese drink that is made by mixing French-roast coffee and condensed milk. It can be served hot or cold, depending on preference. During hot and exhausting days, Vietnamese would drink soda chanh or lemon soda. Coconut milk can also be purchased from street vendors and drank straight from husk of a young coconut. Vietnamese are also fond of Cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee), Nước Sâm (iced ginseng), Sữa đậu nành (soy milk) and Soda sữa hột gà (a concoction of iced soda with egg, milk and sugar).
Of the various Vietnamese drinks, Snake Wine or Rượu rắn is the most intruiging. Made by bottling venomous dead snakes that are immersed in rice wines, Snake Wine is not for the faint of heart or the weakest of stomachs. Nonetheless, the alcoholic beverage is believed to have restorative and invigorating properties.