Music credit : Marcus Neely
Photos and video: Jay Fei
"Cuisine is the tactile connection we have to breathing history. History and culture offer us a vibrant living society that we taste through cuisine. All cuisine is a reflection of the society from which it emanates. In the end, cuisine is the result of culture" - Clifford Wright
Why I am creating this Guide Book
Meals bond. And good food can be considered a religion in Vietnam. The more you love and immerse yourself into the food culture of a country, the more you know the nation and its people.
I’d love to give international friends a memorable and life-enriching travel experience to Ho Chi Minh City, aka. Saigon. If you are so lucky to have local friends take you out on a dining spree, you must have guessed that it's the little secret street vendors that you'll wind up at, not at some fancy places. While digging in, your friends will certainly tell you tales about how important and meaningful these family-run stalls are to them. Food culture is the pivotal part when visiting Saigon, and eating like a local is possibly the best token you can take home. You get to consume the food and absorb the culture at the same time.
If a local who’s been eating there for ages advised you to go to a specific food merchandiser, you know it’s not only safe, but also tasty. TV celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay in “Gordon’s Great Escape", and Anthony Bourdain in “No Reservation" have praised and raised Saigon culinary profile internationally. Yet "when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Gastronomy insights and knowledge of access, essentially, ought to come from a local, one who consumes it daily and has a strong bond with it. It is not only to keep the culture and the economy alive, it also promotes a region’s culinary art, as well as to cultivate and enhance your positive experience when visiting Saigon.
Gastronomy in Saigon has a long and interesting history, it is an infusion of the quintessence from different historic stages. Vietnam had thousands of years of cultural diversity, therefore, it extracts and harmonises all the fruit of different phases during its colonial history, learning from the Chinese to the French, borrowing from Cambodia to Thailand, extracting from East to West. Food is our national pride, thus I would like to bring the world closer to our culture by introducing our food. A trip to Vietnam is not complete without getting to know its cuisines.
The vision of this book is to preserve Vietnamese national cuisines and street food culture, contribute to the economy from the bottom up, as well as introducing a safer and more regulated dining options from a local perspective to travellers from around the globes.
Who I am and What this book has to give
My name is Thu Huynh. I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Saigon, and I am well attached to my hometown. I'd like visitors to my country to feel at ease and natural when experiencing gastronomy culture in Ho Chi Minh City. This book is an insider’s guide written from the perspective of an imaginary Vietnamese friend taking you around, showing you good food and good life in Saigon. It will include little bits and pieces about the history of the food, how the locals come to love it, and where to eat the best of that type based on local rumours. This book covers 30+ types of food and drinks, including “bánh mì” (pork roll), “phở” (Vietnamese beef noodle soup), “cà phê sữa đá” (Vietnamese white iced coffee), “gỏi cuốn” (rice paper roll), plus other traditional or exotic cuisines available in Saigon. As well as hundreds of popular places to explore within the city. There is also a bonus section that includes fancy restaurants and cafes, relaxation and others, as they are also important elements in the big picture. I wish everyone will have a fun experience with this book while adventuring Saigon food scene.
This book aims to make everyone intelligent travellers coming to Saigon. Even if you have not had a plan to visit Saigon/Vietnam, this book might change your mind, and enhance your insight about Ho Chi Minh City. The more support we get, the more we can make this book more informative and beautiful.
Why I need your help:
- Additional photo shoots and information check: USD $400 or more
- Flight itinerary for me to travel to Vietnam from Australia: USD $850
- Hiring professional writer to make the book into reader-friendly format: USD $275
- Cost of designing the cover, creating illustration, editing photos, and making map: USD $700
- Preparing, printing and shipping the rewards: approximately USD $1,200
- Total cost: USD $3,425 = AUD $3,708
- Plus Kickstarter and payment processing fee
I have already had the skeleton and draft writing of the book. We only need writing edited (as English is not my first language) and visuals added to make it look more appealing.
1st - 30th August: A professional freelance writer will be assigned to edit the book.
Meanwhile, visuals such as covers, illustrations, pictures and maps will be designed.
15th Jan - 1st Feb 2015: I will hopefully be in Vietnam around this time and travel around Saigon to take photos of the food and the places provided in the book. Also to get more writing done in the process.
1st Feb - 15th Feb 2015: Final editing of the book.
15th Feb - 15th Mar 2015: Print, bind and ship!
From 15th Mar: Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours!
Risks and challenges
It is crucial to make a guide book informative and insightful. There will be obstacles along the way. The most difficult issue is to provide precise information. Saigon is a young and thriving city, economy is still unstable, food vendors and restaurants come and go with astoundingly fast pace. there will be places that change, close, or relocate when this book arrives. Information in the book needs to be double-checked just right before the book is published. And even so, the ebook needs to be constantly updated. Therefore, we'll try to email everyone that owns the paperback version with corrected information, and ones with ebooks an updated version to download for free. Any feedback about incorrect info will be strongly appreciated.
A second challenge is that there will be new food popping up and some food becoming obsolete, due to various reasons. And opinions differ. One food might be considered tasty to one, but rancid to another. We are trying hard to list the food that has been there for a substantial period of time, proven delicious and suits various tastebuds by many foodies from around the world and international food journalist when they come to Saigon, but it is hard to cover everything and please everyone. Any comment to positively contribute will be carefully listened and considered.
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