Culinary artisan Ton Nu Thi Ha: for her last project

Wednesday, 2017-06-07 11:18:51
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Artisan Ton Nu Thi Ha is introducing some kinds of spice. (Credit: dulich.baothuathienhue.vn)
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NDO – Artisan Ton Nu Thi Ha from Hue City, Thua Thien – Hue province, born in 1943, is producing her last project, publishing a book drawing on her passion for Vietnamese cuisine.

Passion for cuisine

Ton Nu Thi Ha is well-known as the only successor of the royal Hue cuisine and was listed in the Guinness Vietnam book. She has appeared in numerous newspapers with her warm smile and beautiful Ao dai (Vietnamese traditional long dress).

Despite her old age, she travelled everywhere to learn about many different dishes. Notably, she visited a chili growing area in Duy Xuyen district, Quang Nam province to find out more information on this spice for her last book. At the age of 74, under the hot sun, she waded barefoot through the field and explained the use of each type of chili. She said: “While cooking food, I taste when the water boils. I taste again after turning off the fire and taste one more time after putting the food on the plate. I feel the flavour of the food combined with my passion whenever I taste the food. Wading through the field to learn about the chili is also my passion”.

When she was very young, Ton Nu Thi Ha studied the royal cooking techniques from her aunts who were wives of imperial mandarins. She shared that cooking is her unending passion and she has preserved many secrets of traditional cuisine. “I am very proud of being a traditional woman, both in appearance and thought”, she added.

Over recent years, many universities on tourism in Spain, France and Iraq have constantly invited the artisan to teach their chefs the cooking techniques used in producing royal dishes. She has been a jurywoman at international cooking contests in numerous European countries. Over 20 of her books on cooking have been ordered and archived by Vietnam Institute of Cultural Studies and Japanese and Chinese universities.

Ton Nu Thi Ha opened Tinh Gia Vien restaurant in Hue city in order to preserve and promote Hue royal cuisine. Coming to the restaurant, visitors can enjoy royal meals in a royal space. She said that Tinh Gia Vien 2 restaurant will be opened in Kim Long ward in the next year. In addition, she will form three universities of Culinary Arts, Bonsai Care and Human Care Arts.

For the last project

She visited Duy Xuyen district, Quang Nam province in order to learn more about the chili, in preparation for her last project of publishing a book on cuisine. She shared: “The book, which consists of over 1,000 pages, will be published later this year. It took two years to write and contains all the knowledge that I have collected since I was a child”.

The book will be the result of her journeys around the country to learn about Vietnamese dishes, years of hard work in European countries, long days of wading through beds of farm produce, and sleepless nights spent reading Vietnamese and English documents.

In her opinion, for Vietnamese people, cuisine is a virtue of life and a social rule. The word ‘eat’ is associated with the judgment of moral values. The dishes, from their creation to their flavor and their display, are infused with the community and the cultural identities of Vietnamese people. Each food is a cultural metaphor. Analysing the special food of a region, in its display or the way it is enjoyed, can help diners understand the personality of local people.

“Despite my old age, my passion is infinite. All the typical dishes of Vietnam as well as European and Asian countries will be presented in detail, from the materials needed to the recipes. I have compared the differences and similarities between Vietnamese and other countries’ food in order to find the uniqueness of Vietnamese cuisine. Regarding Hue royal cuisine, I have always believed that the authentic royal dishes will remain popular. With my knowledge, I will write down all of the recipes and ways to display Vietnamese royal dishes, in words, photos and video, in order to pass it on to younger generations,” noted artisan Ton Nu Thi Ha.

MAI THANH DUNG