UNICEF estimates that
about a third of Vietnamese children below 16 years of age can be considered
poor. STREETS International, G Adventures and Planeterra established the
Oodles of Noodles training program which empowers students to practice
English and develop their hosting, serving and cooking skills. This facilitates
their chances of future employment.
We had a very enjoyable visit
to the Hoi An Oodles of Noodles culinary school. Despite the name, the
establishment is not just for noodles -- they specialize in a good variety
of other dishes and practice all the basics of working in the food industry.
The students are often street kids, being given a chance to learn skills
and have a job. Many, after they graduate, get jobs in hotels, resorts,
high end restaurants, etc. They also have to learn English.
Three graduates spoke to us.
One young lady gave us the history of the STREETS program and showed us
a video. Dio, a young man, showed us the various kinds of noodles used
in Vietnam and some of the ones tht Hoi An is famous for. Another young
lady showed us, with the help of one of our group, how to make rice rolls.
We then made our own rice rolls on an electric pot set as a steamer. Therewas
a muslin cloth stretched across the top of the pot, and a small ladle of
rice flour and water batter was then placed and spread out in a circle
on top of the cloth. A lid was placed over the pot, and the 'pancake' was
done when it turned from opaque to transparent. A thin bamboo strip dipped
in water was used to lift the thin pancake off the cloth. These could be
made thicker by ladling another scoop on top of the cooked pancake. They
were then cut into noodles, or rolled up with meat, etc. in between. These
are one of our favourite foods... for breakfast, snacking, or as lunch.
They also showed us a snack for
"hangovers"...smashed something or other. A rice pancake was placed on
top of a crispy pancake. It was then folded over in half, smacked, and
then folded again. Pieces were then torn off and dipped in very intense
fish sauce, or very thin sweet 'n' sour sauce, or chili paste. Very good!
Then, we were served a bowl of
the best pho we've had so far. Actually called Mi Quan? There was
minimal amount of delicious broth, then the bowl was loaded with fresh
shrimp, pork, quail eggs, bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, mint, and
a lime wedge. The room was silent except for "Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm"
At the conclusion of the meal
we bought books and T-shirts to support the program and posed for group