We were told that most families that farm and live in the countryside on Ben Tre make about $40 US per month. $40!!!!! Food, however is pretty inexpensive because most of it (bananas, mango, lemongrass, mint, bitter melon, cucumbers, pineapple, chilies, lotus flower root, etc, etc.) grows right in their own yards.

 

Here is a recipe that we helped make which utilizes many of these yummy homegrown ingredients. It resulted in a beautiful, super flavorful papaya salad. Of course this is one thing I forgot to take a picture of!!!! Well, use your imagination….OR, even better, make it for yourself!!

 

 

SWEET PAPAYA SALAD

 

1 large orange papaya, skin peeled off and the inside (minus the seeded core of course!) shredded.

 

Handful of mint leaves chopped up

 

Half a lemon worth of lemon juice ( could probably do lime too or instead…)

 

Approximately 1/4 cup of sugar

 

Handful of salt (to taste)

 

A few tablespoons of fish sauce

 

A few tablespoons of rice vinegar

 

A clove of garlic, chopped finely

 

Two small red chilies chopped (again, more or less to taste)

 

1/2 cup of cooked pork chopped into cubes (optional)

 

Mix with your hands in large bowl, serve at room temperature and enjoy!!! Nom!!

 

***As this was truly home cooking, there were no real measurements, I am just guessing in this area. When making this yourself, start with a smaller amount, taste, taste, taste and add as you need to!

 

 

The kitchen in our homestay was tiny, somewhat makeshift and in a separate little building apart from the main house. The stove was a small portable propane number, bowls and other kitchen ware were stored in baskets on the floor, and the “sink” was a spigot outside.
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Irregardless of the small space, all sorts of food was made for dinner on the two nights we stayed, including grilled egg plants, a cabage dumpling soup, omelette, stir fry, several kinds of spring rolls and my personal favorite, fried bananas.

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