Awesome Boar| Vietnam| Vietnam Travel| Vietnam visa

In Lang Son Province, which borders China, die people eat roast meat they call che than. Although it is available at restaurants, originally che than is some­thing a family prepares for special guests. Che than must be served not in bowls or dishes but on three layers of leaves, uppermost moc mat, a kind of succulent apricot, next red-pepper, and at  the bottom a grass that grows by a brook. The eating utensil is a eucalyptus twig sharpened and   heated.

The meat does not go directly    into    the mouth but is dipped in three terracotta bowls, the first contain­ing lard prepared with clay, the second red pepper prepared with cassava alcohol and the third salt prepared with wild banana. Che than is served with one-third of a moc mat leaf that has been soaked in the brook, and part of the stalk of the leaf should be used as a toodipick.

According to Mr Nung Sieng, a che than specialist in Bao Lam Village, Cao Loc District, a wild boar of about 20 kg is the most suitable, and it should come from deep in forest or high on a mountain, to be awe-inspiringly powerful.

A ceremony in worship of mountain gods and forest ghosts is held before the boar is gutted. The carcass should be washed with extract of moc mat leaves mixed with clay mud, soaked in vinegar, covered with a layer of grass taken from beside a brook, buried three days and three nights, washed with herbal extract, embalmed with forest spices, stuffed with moc -mat leaves, trussed with wild-apricot twigs and roasted over a fire fuelled with wood of a special tree that has born fruit; salt has been thrown into the fire. When the skin begins to yellow, a sign that the meat is cooked well, water from the brook mixed with cassava alcohol is poured on to it without putting the fire out; smoke must be kept away lest the che than aroma be dispersed and the awe-inspiring power dissipated. The boar is turned over, and lard coming out of it collected and poured back over it when the feast is about to start.

The cooking of che than is carried out only when the host has made sure nobody-is lurking or eavesdropping.

The meat is displayed on a table covered with moc mat leaves and the host says a mantra to change it into che than.

Because che than is in high demand, wild boar, big or small, are becoming scarce and domestic pigs are substituted. Many families break the law and bring    che    than out    for    sale and   restaurants   prepare   it. It is now available over the border,in China.

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