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  • Brynn Mitchell & Chau Tonnu

Greetings from Huế, Vietnam —the Origin of Mẹ’s Way Chili Sauce

(Below pictures are licensed and provided by Shutterstock and iStock)

Flavor is deeply rooted in a sense of place. In order to fully experience the culinary arts born in a specific location, it is important to get a full picture of the culture that created the cuisine. Huế, Vietnam is no exception. The food attributed to the region, layered with fresh produce, complex textures, tang and spice, is a sentiment to the vibrant history and culture of the region.

Steeped in historical significance, Huế rests in central Vietnam and is regarded as the spiritual and intellectual heart of the country.

Huế is home to the Imperial City where the Nguyễn Dynasty ruled from 1802-1945. The Complex of Huế Monuments is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The vast citadel faces the Hương River (or Perfume River) and its walls and moats span miles. The structures encompass the Forbidden Purple City, the innermost section of the grounds that were restricted to the Imperial family.

The region boasts ornate palaces, temples, and tombs that allude to times of war and peace where artistry and craftsmanship were deeply valued. Several of the tombs around the city provide tranquil stops for tourists and locals alike. When arriving at Huế, one should visit 32 most famous attractions in the area.

32 Huế’s Places Worth Visiting

1. The Imperial City

2. Tomb Of Gia Long

3. Tomb Of Minh Mạng

4. Tomb of Thiệu Trị

5. Tomb Of Tự Đức

6. Tomb Of Đồng Khánh

7. Tomb Of Khải Định

8. Thái Hòa Palace

9. Diên Thọ Palace

10. Cần Chánh Palace

11. Truong Sang Palace

12. An Định Palace

13. Meridian Gate

14. Chương Đức Gate

15. Nine Dynastic Urns

16. Thái Bình Pavilion

17. Hiền Lâm Pavilion

18. Thiên Mụ Pagoda

19. Từ Hiếu Pagoda

20. Từ Đàm Pagoda

21. Hòn Chén Temple

22. Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities

23. Duyet Thi Duong House, Royal Theater

24. Bạch Mã National Park

25. Thủy Tiên Lake

26. Đầm Chuồn

27. Perfume River

28. Trường Tiền Bridge

28. Thanh Toàn Bridge (Or Japanese Bridge)

30. Vọng Cảnh Hill

31. Nam Giao Esplanade

32. Đông Ba Market

The Tomb of Gia Long just south of the city is known for its architectural beauty,

while the vast Tomb of Minh Mạng, closer to the heart of the city, includes 40 structures including one for the emperor’s clothes.

The Tomb of Tự Đức honors its namesake, who had the longest reign of any monarch in the Nguyễn Dynasty, with grounds and buildings that were so ornate and costly that an uprising was started in protest of the toll it took on the people.

The Tomb of Đồng Khánh, alternatively, was greatly influenced by European architecture and the resulting design is a unique blend of traditional lacquered pillars and European building materials.

The Tomb of Khải Định is smaller and more elaborate than its predecessors and expands on the blending of cultural artistry. These sites are as diverse as they are elegant, and they truly embed the city in history.

Another link between Huế and its rich history is the Pagodas that span the city. Pagodas are beautiful temples with teared, stacked structures. Thiên Mụ Pagoda, or the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady, reaches 7 stories into the sky and is often noted as the symbol of Huế.

Từ Hiếu Pagoda is currently the home to 70 practicing monks and sits in a beautiful pine forest on the shore of a half-moon lake.

Over the last 150 years, Từ Đàm BaPagoda has been one of the spiritual centers of the city. It has been renovated and expanded over the years and remains a pillar of the Buddhist faith. These Pagodas punctuate Huế with spiritual significance and serenity. The dreamy landscape of Huế is scattered with rice patties, lush greenery, and graceful architecture contrasted with ruins from ages past. One of the greatest examples of Huế’s natural beauty is Bạch Mã National park which stretches thousands of acres outside of the city. The park is filled with steep granite mountains and dense forests. It is one of the wettest places in Vietnam and provides a refuge from hot summer weather. The immense range of plant life and animals that call Bạch Mã home make it a destination not to be missed.

For those looking for a quirkier getaway, five miles outside of the city lies Thủy Tiên Lake complete with an eerie abandoned water park. The lovely lake is surrounded by moss-covered roller-coaster tracks and rundown structures that create a one-of-a-kind destination.

As the Perfume river winds its way over the region, it brings with it scents of diverse flora giving it its name. The river runs directly through the city and touches every part of life in Huế. Folk melodies can be heard from boats methodically drifting past historic monuments that scatter the shore, tying the city together.

Crossing the river may take travelers and locals across the Trường Tiền Bridge. This beautiful 120-year-old structure connects historic Huế with the newer French quarter built to the south. It is arched steel design makes a bold impression on the cityscape.

To the east of the city, the Thanh Toàn Bridge is perched over the water and displays unique traditional architecture. The roofed bridge and its painted pillars provide a window into the past.

Today, landmarks undergo restoration while bicycles and taxis meander the roads. Less hectic than other large Vietnamese cities, Huế offers sights, sounds, flavors and breathtaking experiences to tourists from all over the world. The city is dotted with coffee shops, boutique hotels, markets, and food vendors. Locals transport cargo on the backs of motor bikes, and colorful umbrellas, signs, and traditional Vietnamese clothing sprinkle the city sidewalks. From the Royal Theater, where traditional dances and music are performed, to the University, an important intellectual pillar in Vietnam, Huế is brimming with history and culture.

Though sometimes overlooked, one of the most important cultural centers in Huế is Đông Ba Market. The two-story maze of shops and vendors selling household goods, fresh food, spices, and clothing is the epitome of life in Huế. The market is a haven of traditional foods and a main resource for locals to shop for ingredients and some of the best prepared food in the city.

To match its physical beauty, Huế’s fare, from opulent dishes to rustic favorites are stunning and delicious. From bright soups and grilled meats to umami dumplings and rice cakes, the rich flavors and complex spice palette sets food from Huế apart. The city features a wide variety of street food vendors selling traditional dishes like Bún Bò Huế and Bánh Bột Lọc, the best of which are paired with spicy-sweet chili sauce like Mẹ’s Way.

The electric culture characterized by the region’s landscape, history, and artistry make Huế an unforgettable oasis and a beautiful place to call home.


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