In addition to the two things everyone knows you don't want to see being made laws and sausages there may be a third: Vietnamese rice-paper noodles. But don't let your hygiene fears keep you away from visiting one of the traditional noodle-making villages scattered across the country. In crowded courtyards with pigs and chickens, families pour a fermented gruel of rice flour and water onto the base of linen steamers. Barnyard atmosphere aside, the way they lift the delicate, translucent sheets onto bamboo racks, which are then set on rooftops to dry, is nothing less than an art form. Visits to villages like Tho Ha, outside Hanoi, are easily arranged by travel agents or cooking schools.
By Martha Ann Overland