Obama, Bun Cha and Food Diplomacy
“The reaction among regular people in Hanoi to the fact that the US President chose to eat Bun Cha was beyond all imagining. The effect was unbelievable. People were actually crying the next day, describing to me their shock and their pride, the reactions of their neighbors, to this completely unexpected choice of meal—and the venue.”
-- Anthony Bourdain, who adds five other true things about dinner with Pres. Barack Obama.
P and I visited our friends Andy and Joanie in Hanoi in 2010, and P came back with a deep craving for bun cha, her favorite dish, which we had trouble finding. Here, in Seattle, where most of the Vietnamese are from the south, for obvious reasons, it's called “Bun cha Hanoi,” we discovered, and it never tasted the same. Maybe you need those little plastic stools.
Andy added the following to the Obama/bun cha discussion:
The whole thing isn't just a nifty little photo op...it was specifically designed to show his respect for Hanoi, for north Vietnam. And food's a very powerful ally if you handle it right. I remember in a cab ride in Bali, all the driver wanted to talk about when he heard we were American was how Obama loves bakso, the noodle soup found all over Indonesia. That's a kind of diplomacy that the US will miss when either Clinton or Trump is president...
P's dish, my president.