14/04/2011 2:26:17 CH
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The 2011 Hue Traditional Crafts Festival celebrates local cuisine and the art of bonsai - Meet Vietnam’s best chefs and gardeners
From April 30th to May 3rd, 2011, the city of Hue is hosting its fourth bi-annual Traditional Crafts Festival. This year’s event will celebrate bonsai plants and cuisine with the theme: “Vietnamese Gastronomy in the Tranquility of Hue’s Gardens.”

The area around Hue is home to many traditional craft villages, some of which date back to the time when the Nguyen Lords chose Phu Xuan as the capital of Dang Trong (the Southern Territory). At the start of the 19th century the Nguyen Dynasty established their court in Hue. The best artisans from all over the nation settled around Hue to supply products to the royal court.

During the course of the city’s history, many local craft villages fell into oblivion. In an attempt to revive some of these ancient trades, the provincial government started hosting Traditional Handicraft Festivals in 2005. The 2005 Hue Traditional Crafts Festival focused on conical hat making and embroidery. The 2007 event celebrated wood carving, bronze casting and jewelry-making. In 2009, pottery, lacquer and porcelain enamel were showcased.

Food and bonsai plants are integral parts of Hue’s identity. For generations, people in Hue have paid a great deal of attention to their gardens and their cuisine.

Visitors to the 2011 Hue Traditional Crafts Festival can discover Hue’s unique cuisine in traditional garden settings. Visitors will be charmed by coconut palms hanging over the river, bamboo footbridges, haystacks, green fields and wooden cottages surrounded by lush gardens.

Hue boasts hundreds of sophisticated dishes that were once served at the royal court, as well as vegetarian fare developed in the city’s many pagodas, and medicinal recipes. Eating a simple and healthy vegetarian meal served in a serene garden is a memorable experience, as is attending a banquet similar to those once held in Hue’s court.

Even everyday Hue food is special. Visitors can enjoy “a party of salt”, in which many types of flavored salt accompany their dinner, including muối sả (salted lemongrass); muối cốm (roasted young sticky rice with salt); muối mè (sesame and salt); muối thịt chấy (salted shredded meat); muối tôm chấy (salted shredded shrimp); muối tiêu (salt and black pepper); and muối ớt (salt and chili).

Other highlights include a stunning variety of mắm (fermented fish dishes), such as mắm cà (pickled eggplants in soured fish sauce); mắm tôm (shrimp paste); mắm cá cơm, (soured anchovies); etc. The variety of cơm (rice) dishes is equally staggering. Visitors should be sure to sample cơm ghẹ (rice with sea crabs); cơm hương sen (lotus rice); and cơm cháy (rice crust).

Also not to be missed are local specialties like bún bò (beef noodle soup), cơm hến (mussel rice), bánh bèo (steamed savoury rice cakes), bánh nậm (rice paste topped with fried shrimp), and bánh lọc (sticky tapioca flour dumplings).

When visitors have had their fill of Hue food they can sample some authentic northern Vietnamese food. A “street corner in old Hanoi” will be reproduced at the fair. Here, visitors will find typical northern food and drinks, kids playing traditional games, and performances of traditional folk music like Ca Trù, Chèo and Hát Xẩm.

Visitors will also have the chance to meet prominent culinary researchers and experts and talented bonsai artists at a seminar entitled: “The Taste of Vietnamese Gastronomy and the Art of Bonsai”. Antique collectors and artists from all over Vietnam will attend the festival and present various activities. Children can join a cooking contest, and couples can cook together. Visitors who love Hue food so much that they’d like to learn how to make some back home can sign up for cooking lessons. Last but not least, tours to local pagodas, interesting villages and eco-tourism sites are on offer throughout the festival.


Opening Ceremony: 8.00 PM, April 30th, 2011 at Ngo Mon Square
Closing and Artisans Honoring Ceremony: 8.00 PM, May 3rd 2011 at Ngo Mon Square
Principal venues: Sections for cuisine from Hue, Vietnam’s North and South and a display of bonsai: inaugurated from 5.00 PM, April 29th 2011 in the front yard of the Imperial City, along Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street and Phu Van Lau Park.
Boat dining on the Huong River
Exhibit of Royal Utensils and Antiques: from 4.00 PM April 29th 2011 at the Buddhist Culture Centre - Lieu Quan, 13 Le Loi Street.
Seminar on “The Taste of Vietnamese Gastronomy”: 8.00 AM, May 1st 2011
Cooking contests: “Let’s cook together” at 8.00 AM, May 1st 2011;
            “Happy meals (couples cook)” at 8.00 AM, May 2st 2011
Hue cuisine cooking lessons: from April 30th to May 3rd 2011
Community activities: Street Music (5.00 – 6.30 PM daily); Kite flying (1.30 – 5.00 PM daily); Human chess games (4.00 to 6.00 PM, May 1st & 2nd 2011); Sampan racing (at 7.00 AM, May 3rd 2011); Unicorn dances and street art performances (5.00 PM daily), Hue traditional folk songs on the Huong River, Vietnamese cuisine at city hotels, etc.
Photo exhibitions on Culinary Arts and Garden Houses, Fine Art Exhibitions at galleries; diverse eco-tours, community tours, tours to craft villages in Hue, etc.

Hoàng Thị Thọ