In the swarming streets of Ho Chi Minh City we sought comfort in a cold beer as the brooding sky threatened to unload a downpour of Biblical proportions. A mobile food stall passed, a wheeled steel cabinet behind a bicycle, bearing strings of wrinkled dried squid that hung from a vertical display rack. We watched rapt as the Vietnamese guys we’d been talking to at the next table ordered a couple. The vendor grilled the squid over a burner in the top of the trailer then passed the hot, dry flesh through a mangle attached to the side before serving the crisped up cephalopods in a cardboard tray with chilli sauce. We couldn’t resist. ‘Smells like dog food’ Fi said, but it tasted sensational, warm, chewy, salty and spicy. Hot mangled squid - our new favourite streetfood.
Shortly afterwards our Vietnamese friends paid, stood up and sped off somewhat wobbily into the traffic on their motorbike. Tabs are easily settled here, they simply leave your empty beer bottles under your table till you settle up and a quick recount establishes what you owe. There were 10 bottles beneath theirs that explained their riding style if not their drunk-riding sensibilities.
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