Autumn has arrived in Ha Noi with gentle breezes tenderly penetrating street corners, replacing the summer heat and scattering bunches of yellow leaves on the pavements.
People enjoy the tasty fragrance of com made in Vong Village, sold by a street vendor in central Ha Noi. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Dat
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 Ha Noi’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.
Com has a pure emerald green colour and faint flavour of young rice. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Dat
Many have said staying in the capital without savouring cốm would be a major shortcoming of a Ha Noi experience.
How com comes to life
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.
Com is wrapped into two layers of lotus leaves so that it doesn't dry out. The lotus leaves' fragrant aroma will also help preserve the rice's colour and freshness. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Dat
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.
To make com, villagers start from bright and early in the morning. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Dat
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 Ha Noi.
There are also com cakes - a Vietnamese must-have for happy occasions, including weddings and Lunar New Year.
Skill and hard work are needed to make good com. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Dat