Paradise of the Blind Glossary

Paradise of the Blind Glossary


unjustified suspicion and mistrust of other people.


indirectly experiencing the feelings or actions of another person.


repulsively ugly or distorted


a mineral that is similar to rock sugar; it is used in Vietnamese cooking to make foods crunchy and to add texture to meat dishes

ancestors’ altar

a family shrine that is constructed on a shelf or in a corner in the central room of a Vietnamese family home. It is decorated with candlesticks, fresh flowers, fruit, incnse, scrolls, and tablets. On special occasions, such as Tet, the living offer special foods to the spirits of the dead.

ao dai

Women’s traditional dress: a full length, high necked tunic that is slit to the waist and worn over white or black silk pants.


similar to chewing tobacco; betel is made by rolling bits of areca palm nut and lime paste into a leaf. Vietnames peasant women chew betel after a long day in the fields. It is a mild stimulant and an appetite suppressant.

che sweet pudding

the name for a variety of sweet dessert dishes which, depending on the length of cooking time, can be a sweet pudding or a sticky rice cake.


a 3 wheeled pedal driven vehicle that is a popular form of local transportation.

fermented fish sauce

a pungent, amber colored sauce made from fresh fish which are salted and layered in wooden barrels to ferment. this sauce is to Vietnamese cuisine as soy sauce is to Chinese cuisine.

ginger root

a highly fragrant root whose yellowish flesh is minced into fine strips and is used to flavor meats.


an aromatic root widely used as a tonic in Vietnam. The root of the ginseng plant looks a little like a human; when sipped as a tea, it is believed to have medicinal and restorative powers.

mung beans

small, yellowish-green beans which are used to provide bean sprouts for salads. dried beans are often boiled and used to fill festival cakes and eaten with sticky rice.

Muong minority

a large ethnic minority in Vietnam; they live to the southwest of Hanoi in Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa. They are expert farmers and were able to maintain private ownership of land despite the government’s collectivization.

New Year’s Cakes

these fist sized rice squares are a traditional Tet Lunar New Year delicacy. They are actually salty and not sweet. The Vietnamese will prepare hundreds at a time.


a loaf of finely ground meat, usually pork, wrapped in a banana leaf


Vietnam’s most popular dish: a northern noodle soup made of oxtail and seasoned with cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, and star anise.


the larvae of the silkworm plucked from inside the silk chrysalis and fried with onions or steamed in water


the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Tet mens the first day of spring between the harvest and the planting seasons. It is the most important national holiday and the centerpiece of its culture of ancestor worship.

Vermicelli noodles

round white rice noodles. The Vietnamese eat these noodles cold and topped with meats, or chopped and mixed in with spring roll stuffing.

Viet Minh

the resistance front against the French formed by Ho Chi Minh in 1941

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.