What to eat
When fall starts to knock at the door of every Hanoian, it is also time for the aroma, long grain snacks that is favorite by many: Com. This snack is made from young sticky rice grain, collected at the end of the summer season. Located in the west of Hanoi, the village of Dich Vong Ward, Cau Giay District is famous for its Com. The Com from this village is flat with light leafy green colour with rich aroma. The process of making Com is complicated, can easily be done wrong. The farmer has to harvest at the right time. The grain will then be roasted to correct temperature so the skin will peel off easily without being too dry. It ill then be beat until it is smooth and supple. The fresh Com Vong under normal condition can last up to 2 days.
Nobody knows how long the Com making tradition has been in the Vong village. Legend has it that on a fall thousand years ago, when the rice grain was still young, there was a heavy storm. It destroyed all the field, leaving only a few young rice grain left. The Vong villagers harvested and roasted it to avoid hunger. Unexpectedly, the food is fragrant and delicious, having its own distinctive taste. From then on, the villagers keep making Com every fall, perfecting the skill until now when the grain is suppler, greener, thinner and aromatic.
A gourmet Hanoi food expert will know to slowly savor Com Vong with sips of green tea from Thai Nguyen. The snack is best eaten with persimmon or banana. Com Vong is a traditional snack of Hanoian since the old days so savoring it should also be very subtle. Com is wrapped in lotus leaves, old lotus leaf helps maintain the pure flavor of Com. It will be wrapped in a ball and tied with golden straw to prevent being dried out. Com has been a big part of Vietnamese traditional wedding. It is made into cakes to give for the elderly as a sign of respect and longevity.
The grandmother and mother sells Com in traditional dress with turban, blouse, sometimes carrying a basket filled with delicious treat. The cover hides the Com, protected in layers of lotus leaf from the drying air of fall. Though this image of Com seller gradually fades, it still remains as a big part of nostalgic Hanoi in fall with crisp sunlight and golden leaves.