Huê (VNA) – The cuisine of Huê presents one of the precious legacies of the place and even of the country. The development of this sector partly determines the development of tourism in the former capital Huê (Centre).
When we mention Huê (located in the province of Thua Thiên Huê), we think of the former capital of the feudal regime of Vietnam between 1687 and 1774. We recognize it by its ancient palaces, architectural works, art, customs and traditional costumes that marked the culture, prosperity and buzz of a nerve center of the past.
In addition, the very original gastronomy that belongs to the essence of the city. Tourists are conquered by a culinary “treasure” with 1,300 dishes, accounting for more than two-thirds of the number of dishes in the entire country (1,700).
Protection of intangible heritage
With the aim of promoting local gastronomy in favor of tourism development, the province of Thua Thiên Huê has created the “Huê – Kingdom of cuisine” program for the period 2019-2025 and vision 2030, which focuses on the presentation and preserving these culinary gems.
At the end of April, about 35 schools in the Japanese city of Saijo invited their students to taste bun bo Huê (rice vermicelli with beef Huê-style). About 9,000 bowls were prepared and this dish has been a huge success among young Japanese ever since. This anecdote motivated the local authorities to seek more measures to preserve and promote the values of the dishes of the ancient imperial city of Huê.
After the epidemic, the number of tourists going to Hue increased significantly. The latter are not only interested in the typical destinations of the city, but also in the local cuisine, which is very rich in dishes and flavors. However, despite an abundance and diversity of dishes, many are still little known or unknown or do not appear on the menus of hotel establishments. Although the network of hotels, resorts and inns is densely spread across the province, their menus unfortunately contain few typical Huê dishes.
However, in the center of Huê there are many traditional restaurants (in the sense that they serve specialized meals from Huê), but the clientele remains modest because their infrastructure does not allow them to meet an excessive demand for food. In addition, tourists naturally hesitate to choose restaurants that do not include the typical and “flagship” dishes of the region.
The project “Huê – Kingdom of the kitchen” thus focuses on the inventory and methodical justification of Huê’s food and drink. This project aims to preserve the quintessence of the royal and popular cuisine and to promote specialties abroad and attract more tourists. The program focuses on collecting dishes of yesteryear and almost disappeared dishes in order to inventory and record them. The building of a kitchen museum and the training of qualified personnel such as chef, assistant cook and waiter are also recommended factors, even necessary.
The Ministry of Tourism, together with that of Science and Technology of Huê, created the logo of the project. This will soon be seen in restaurants. This will be important information that will provide tourists with a guarantee of quality and confidence in the cuisine of the proposed establishment. The Tourism Office has already drawn up a list of 22 dishes and drinks from Huê. A restaurant wishing to obtain the “Huê – Kingdom of Cuisine” logo must offer at least 2 to 3 dishes on the said list. It must also meet standards in terms of hygiene, surface area of the restaurant, detailed presentation of the origin, the ingredients and the preparation of each dish.
An ancient and varied cuisine
Over time, Huê’s cuisine has been influenced by the culture of immigrants or communities who settled in the place. These conditions have created many nuances that make the richness of the gastronomic culture of Huê with in particular its royal but also popular and vegetarian dishes.
Imperial meals are usually prepared by cordons bleus, which generally symbolize rigor, patience and their decoration is always extremely refined. The popular dishes show the diversity of the ingredients used in cooking, as well as their aesthetic value and their community character.
Vegetarian cuisine, on the other hand, goes back to the custom of enjoying meals without meat on certain days or periods, regulated by the lunar calendar. Huê has about 108 pagodas and 300 sites dedicated to Buddhist worship, most of which are monks following a vegetarian diet. In the past, even the kings of the Nguyên dynasties and their relatives used to eat vegetarian dishes. This is why these meatless dishes are essential and increasingly popular in Huê.
Generation after generation, their preparation and cooking have remained unchanged to become today one of the unique and typical features of the ancient feudal capital.
The pinnacle of Huê’s cuisine probably lies in the harmonious blending of ingredients and exacting decoration to create meals that are delightful to both the taste buds and the eyes. – CVN/VNA