This is one half of the husband and wife team who make tofu on Đường Xuân Đỉnh market to the north of central Hà Nội, Việt Nam. They’ve produced tofu here for 14 years. First, the soy beans are soaked and washed, then ground, filtered and boiled. Yeast is added. The mixture is covered for five minutes.
It is stirred as it begins to set. And then it’s transferred into a series of long wooden troughs lined with muslin cloth.
And spread using a spatula.
The muslin is wrapped around the surface of the raw mixture and a slab of wood is pegged on top so that the tofu sets into a tight rectangluar shape.
After another five minutes. the tofu is fully set. It’s taken out of the wooden contraption, placed onto a table and cut into ready to buy portions. This couple sell 30kg of tofu per day. They also sell bags of fresh soy milk. The by-product from making the tofu is used to feed pigs.
There's a lot of information under a table in Saigon. See the "napkins". They're always thin, often from a cheap toilet roll. The limes, always halved. But, there's more here too. See the marks on the table legs where years of eaters have rested their plastic flip-flops. Then there's the plastic stool chair leg, on the right of the picture. There are two chairs stacked there. Why? If the chairs are already stacked, it must be near closing time. That fact that there are chairs there at all means this must be a market stall or a regular street stall. You wouldn't find chairs, less tables, at a street wheeler stall. Indeed, the high incidence of mess suggests we're well into the day's serving here. Is that a bone? I think it is. Pig probably. And, what about the plastic bag hanging on the left hand side of the picture. It's full of pre-cooked tofu, isn't it? Yes it is. I took the photo, but didn't catalogue it very well at all. However, there's enough information within this image to remind me what dish was served, where it was served and what time of day it was. Not to mention, the general state of the places I used to eat in. I do remember this dish and where I ate it. And it was bloody good.
Photo: I took it
Flickr and Google maps are an absolute boon during the research stage. It's all about the details. Details like those in the photo above. I must have sat at tea stalls like this a hundred times or more. I can remember a lot and I can put together a fairly accurate description, but photos like this help make sure you get it right.
I'm hoping to make a "scrapbook" when I visit Vietnam, possibly using the same method used in the photograph above. I asked the superb, Seoul-based photographer, Billy Gomez, what tools he used to create the effects in the photo. He told me he used an iPhone and the following apps:
No idea what I'll do with the scrapbook, but I'll worry about that if and when I manage to get any snaps halfway-approaching what Billy has managed to do. Take a peek, they're superb.