As the nation’s economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City is home to many food specialties from various regions around the country. During Tet festival, dishes with a decidedly northern flavour such as “chưng” cake and pork pies have brought happiness to families from this region who are unable to herald the Tet holiday in their hometown.

“Vietnamese culture has significant meaning whenever Tet comes. For people whose hometowns are in the north, a family meal provides such a lot of warmth, Dang Hong Nga from Ho Chi Minh City ’s District 1 said while shopping at a store selling dishes from the northern region, which are commonly called Hanoi traditional specialties. They include “chưng” cakes, pork pies, pickled onion and scallion head and Mai said these kinds of food are indispensible during Tet holiday.

After many years of experience bringing northern flavours southwards, Lê Chiến Thắng, owner of a store in Ho Chi Minh City is something of an expert. However, he said that due to the current economic difficulties, purchasing power has increased by only 20 percent during the festive event. In order to have a plentiful amount of goods, his shop had to order from last October.

Special offerings such as oranges, Buddha’s hand fruit and “diễn” grapefruit always sell well on the occasion. Each Buddha’s hand fruit costs approximately one million VND. A Buddha’s hand fruit is segmented into finger-like sections and it has spiritual meaning. He had to order this kind of fruit in the northern mountainous province of Tuyen Quang and Hanoi .

As Tet is approaching, the number of customers is increasing. Foodstuff prices have all increased around 10 percent compared to the normal days, while transport costs have also been on the rise, he said.

In the heart of the dynamic Ho Chi Minh City, these dedicated food stores continue determinedly with their work, quietly bringing northern Vietnamese Tet flavours to people who opt not to go home for the New Year celebrations.-VNA