Autumn has arrived in Hanoi with gentle breezes tenderly penetrating street corners, replacing the summer heat and scattering bunches of yellow leaves on the pavements.
Com has a pure emerald green colour and faint flavour of young rice (Photo: VNA)
It is also time for women from Vong village in Dich Vong ward, Cau Giay district to produce and sell their com (green sticky rice) - one of the capital city’s culinary specialities.
For most Hanoians, com and its related products made in Vong village are among the capital’s most important flavours of autumn, packed full of nostalgia. It is a symbol of gastronomy and elegance due to its a signature colour, flexibility and flavour which com from nowhere else can compete with.
The delicate but fragrant green grains reflect the labour, love and passion of the rice growers and com producers. It seems to be able to deposit the essence of the earth, the heavens, the scent of sunshine and wind.
Many have said staying in the capital without savouring com would be a major shortcoming of a Hanoi experience.
Legend has it that one autumn a thousand years ago when farmers in Vong village were going to harvest their sticky rice, a storm came and caused huge damage to the crops.
The villagers tried to pick the remaining green rice from the storm-torn paddy fields and brought it home to stir fry.
The rice became a newly-invented dish and had helped them survive through hard days. Through generations, locals added more skills during the processing of com until they found it tasted so good that it eventually became more perfect and even went beyond the village to win the favour of all the citizens.
Ever since then, villagers have made com every autumn when the green rice is ready to harvest.
To make com, villagers work hard from about 5am to pick green sticky rice jewelled with dew.
Skill and hard work are needed to make authentic com flat, lime-green, chewy, sticky and smell pleasant like the scent of green rice, so many of the makers have to learn how to make com from a very young age.
The speciality is sold by street vendors or in shops. It can also be found on the breakfast or buffet menu of many hotels in Hanoi.
There are also com cakes - a Vietnamese must-have for happy occasions, including weddings and the Lunar New Year./.VNA