I found Mai Pham's descriptions of Hue food dazzling ("A Cuisine of Heaven and Earth," June 3). I felt like I was there. Thanks for the tour.
I enjoyed the article on Hue. I was there backpacking three (or four) years ago, and the cuisine was a large part of the joy I experienced there. I'm a fairly competent cook, and I may try at least one of Mai Pham's recipes.
I was fortunate to take a vacation to Vietnam and Cambodia during the winter of 1997, largely inspired by my love of the food from those countries. Although I traveled alone, I met some others passing through Hue, and we rented a boat for a cruise down the Perfume River.
We stopped to see the first pagoda and were invited by the monks for an enormous feast. Needless to say, that was our only stop. It was such an amazing experience (we were quite moved by the monks' expression of kindness) that we chose to spend the rest of the day there.
The food, all of it vegetarian, was as delicious and unusual as it was beautiful and bountiful. I still reflect upon that experience and my overall trip nearly every day. Thank you for the wonderful article, which brought back my memories even more.
KEVIN G. SCHOELER
Mai Pham's article not only shows the beautiful tradition of Vietnamese cooking but lets others distinguish between Vietnamese and Chinese foods.
Pham said that bun bo Hue is No. 2 after pho [both Vietnamese noodle soups], and my colleagues (100% Caucasian) agreed after we went out and tried bun bo Hue at a Vietnamese restaurant. I like both and could eat either one every day.