Vietnam is the easternmost country in Southeast Asia covering approximately 126,500 square miles. Its neighbors include China to the north, Laos, Cambodia, and the Gulf of Thailand to the west, and the South China Sea to the east. It is divided into eight different regions, with the main regions being the northern and southern regions. The regions all share some key features, but each region has their own culinary norm. The geography of Vietnam is largely responsible for directing the country’s cuisine. Rice, the cardinal ingredient of the Vietnamese diet, is grown ubiquitously over the country, specifically in the Red River delta in the north and Mekong River delta in the south. In addition, the lanky seacoast provides fish, among other aquatic species, that encompasses the Vietnamese diet. Vietnamese cuisine has regional variety, with Chinese influences in the north and Cambodian and French influences in the south. The northern part of the country falls in the temperate climate zone while the Southern part has a tropical climate. The availability of ingredients, as well as the types of dishes per region in Vietnam, is affected by climate. The south experiences a lot of rainfall, which yields a long growing season. A variety of fruits and vegetables dominate the diet of southern Vietnam. Mirroring the southern tropical climate, foods are cooked for a shorter length of time than in the north. The colder climate of northern Vietnam limits the production and availability of spices, thus making the food less spicy than in other regions. In the early sixteenth century, traders and settlers introduced various foods to Vietnam, including potatoes and tomatoes. The French colonized Vietnam from 1858-1954 and brought with them the technique of sautéing, the use of bones to make stock, coffee, cakes, custards, baguettes, and other French delicacies. In addition, various neighbors have influenced the Vietnamese in their food preparation. Invaders from...
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