If you couldn’t tell by the Vietnamese banh, Orient Market is a predominantly Vietnamese market that caters to a lot of other cultures as well. With that in mind, and after several unsuccessful attempts at finding out what specific herbs were, I sent myself on an investigative quest. I checked out an incredible book called Into The Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors by Andrea Nguyen.
Through the reading of this book, I am now able to identify almost all of the varieties of greens at thet Market, and I know what they are used for. This is exciting for me! I get to learn and share with you too.
Pictured in this image is pineapple, oranges, tangelos, shiitake mushrooms, mung bean sprouts, and the root packed in sawdust is nagaimo (mountain yam or Chinese yam to some, even though the root is used predominantly in Japanese cooking).
The other awesome aspect of this cookbook is exactly what am all about. Nguyen left Vietnam during an unsavory time in the country’s history and her family was only able to take a few things each on their trek to the United States. One of those things was an orange notebook that Nguyen refers to throughout the book. Nguyen writes in her introduction the crux of what Mundovore is all about – that in learning about food we are learning about other cultures. By saving the orange notebook of recipes, “it was the means for our family to preserve its heritage,” and turning those handwritten notes into a cookbook Nguyen presents it to us, “from the heart and soul of our family kitchen.”
And just to give you a sampling of how hard it can be to identify vegetables or greens sometimes, take a look at this posting and how many different comments differ as to what it is!! http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/farmers-market/what-is-this-mystery-root-062179