In the Mekong Delta jungle right outside of Ben Tre on a friend's family farm. Using a long bamboo pole with a knife attached to one end, my friend's dad carves off a few coconuts from the nearest tree, hacks the tops off and hands them to us. The taste is so unlike any other coconut juice I'm used to, and unless I figure out how to grow coconuts in my garden back in Saigon, I'll never taste anything this fresh again.
Walking back from the farm, we pass a house amongst the trees and stop in. It's my friend's great uncle's home. The family has lived here for generations. Great Uncle is elderly and bed ridden, but welcomes us in and serves us tea. I don't think he's seen a Westerner since the war. He stares at our light eyes, at my hair. He seems so happy to meet us, that we took the time to stop by his place, way off the beaten path.
Later on we have dinner at a friend of the family's. She's known in the neighborhood for her cooking skills, and regularly cooks for friends and relatives weddings. I'd like to think I've become a sort of hot pot connoisseur since living here these past six months, but her broth was outstanding; so many layers of flavor. The prawns were caught only yesterday by her husband. Apparently I'm making all the right succulent noises because she beams across the table at me. As we leave, she kisses me on the forehead. I've just been blessed by the best cook in the Mekong Delta - and I can't tell you how amazing that feels.
No pictures of the food because we were too busy slopping it up like the pigs we are.