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234 × 156 × 23 mm
256 pages
110 illustrations, 60 in colour
01 Sep 2016
Foods and Nations

Rice and Baguette A History of Food in Vietnam Vu Hong Lien

The once-obscure cuisine of Vietnam is a favourite of many people from East to West. After millennia of adaptation and innovation with a pervasive Chinese influence, today’s Vietnamese food is, surprisingly, a mixture of Vietnamese and French dishes, with the baguette the most cherished part of the French culinary legacy. Introduced into Vietnam in the mid-nineteenth century, the baguette is now second only to rice, the wonder grain the Viêt discovered thousands of years ago and made their staple food.

Drawing on archaeological evidence and a wealth of oral and written history, Rice and Baguette reveals the journey Vietnamese food has traversed through history to become a much-loved cuisine today

Rice and Baguette is not a cookbook of the type which is sold in popular bookshops . . . It is printed on glossy paper like the popular cookbooks and it is as lavishly illustrated. But it is the social and historical dimension which sets it apart . . . Vu Hong Lien rejects the notion that Vietnamese cuisine is a subordinate of Chinese . . . This book can offer guidance, because its food coverage is both helpful and entertaining.’ — Asian Affairs

‘Lien paints a vivid picture of what was seen in a market place, heard and smelt, both in Vietnam and later in the diasporic circle. The author’s lucid presentation of facts complemented by her humorous style of writing transports the reader amidst a busy Vietnamese market place, adding an ethnographic character to the text. A body of work such as this would appeal equally to a food enthusiast, a layman reader as much as to a scholar interested in the realm of sociology of food.’ — New Books Asia

‘considering its sudden popularity around the world, it feels like the right time to take stock, and digest what we know about Vietnamese food, and Rice and Baguette proves to be just the ticket.’ — Mekong Review

‘A comprehensive and probably unique account of the entire history of Vietnamese food culture from prehistory to today . . . Drawing on archaeological/anthropological studies, folk culture and a wide range of other sources, the author recounts the antecedents, legends, influences and regional differences behind the cuisine that is so popular in Asia and the West today.’ — Kenson Kwok, Founding Director, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

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Vu Hong Lien is a Vietnamese-British historian, and a guest lecturer at SOAS based in London, uk. She is author of Royal Hue, Heritage of the Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam (2015) and co-author of Descending Dragon, Rising Tiger, a History of Vietnam (Reaktion Books, 2014).


One: From Molluscs to Venison

Two: Towards a Cuisine

Three: Agricultural Settlements, Animal Farms and Fisheries

Four: The Chinese Millennium, 257 BCE–938 CE

Five: Independence Food, 939–1859

Six: The French Century, 1859–1954

Seven: Food at War

Eight: From Traditional to Modern Vietnamese Food



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Photo Acknowledgements