The northern midland province of Phu Tho is where palm trees can be found in the middle of paddy fields.
No one knows when palm trees started growing in this land but Phu Tho residents usually say: “Our land is that of palm trees. Everywhere in our hometown, people can see green palm hills.”
For people of Phu Tho, every part of palm tree is useful, especially when it comes to food.
Palm leaves are helpful for people who hide themselves from burning sunlight and can also be used to make a local specialty.
A variety of dishes can be made from palm fruit. The ripe palm fruit is plump and has a purple color. It tastes greasy after being soaked in hot water for 15 minutes. The boiled palm fruit also goes well with sticky rice. To make rice softer and more fragrant, it can be mixed with palm fruit oil while the orange color from the boiled palm fruit can be blended with white sticky rice to create an eye-catching color for the dish.
Salted palm fruits are a specialty of Phu Tho. They are as sour as other pickles but what makes it special is its grease.
Trunks of young palm trees can be processed into food. The core inside the trunk of a young palm tree is soft and white and is fried with long coriander to make a dish claimed to be good for health.
Even with a rotten trunk, people can still create food by leaving it on wet soil to wait for worms which feed on the trunk to grow. When those palm worms become as large as fingers, they can be deep fried. According to elders, fried palm worms are rare as few people can raise worms from rotten palm trunks.