|Dinner is served / Photo: Lottie Delamain
The other night I went to my first supper club ever and I was really looking forward to it because supper clubs are underground, off the radar kind of affairs where cool people cook in their homes for total strangers. I like to be a cool person. We had to give a password and everything and not just because the Vietnamese authorities would never permit foreigners cooking for cash out of their homes.
Tasty is the name of the supper club run by two American best-of-friends and cooking school drop-outs who came out east armed with knives and much hutzpah. Chad also runs a city/food tour on Vespa motorbikes and Fredrick has large Mickey Mouse tattoos on his arms. Their apartment kitchen pumps out metal and hip hop, while in the dining room strangers make yabber with one another and take pictures of their food. (Which is a good thing because my camera typically goes mechanically MIA at just the moment its services are actually required.) I didn’t know what was on the menu and frankly didn’t care. Six courses of yum; Chad and Fredrick hurtling around their kitchen, knives akimbo; and the keeper of the passwords bringing me my own beer from one of two giant fridges in the living room.
The fourth course was a dusty rose smile on a plate; like an oddly coloured wedge of melon on its side. But firmer and clearly not a piece of fruit. “What’s this?” I whispered to my new friend Jen. “Pig’s tongue,” she replied. Oh. Dear. Me.
Now I’ve unintentionally eaten tendon, hooves, knuckles and once memorably, fish uterus studded with little fishy eggs. At any local quan you’ll see many a dish brought to your neighbours’ tables with arachnid-like legs sticking up in a steaming clay pot. Black, disjointed and well, just not pretty enough to stick in my mouth. Turns out those are not scorpion, spider or even gecko dishes of delight … they’re duck tongues. Lots and lots of wee fowl tongues attached to the very cartilage nature intended them to be attached to, plopped in caramelized soy sauce. I’ve intentionally avoided those—insect or entrails or otherwise. So manhandling a pig’s tongue in someone else’s house was going to take some grace.
The vegetarian across from me looked up from her aubergine. “Give us a bite,” she said.
It was damn tasty.