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This is a local fruit market (quelle surprise!) in Thao Dien, a district across the Saigon River from Ho Chi Minh City but still very much in the metropolitan area. My oldest son (also Dun) lives in this district, and works in the city advising Vietnamese entrepreneurs how to manage and grow their businesses. I am visiting him now, staying in a tranquil resort on the river’s bank enjoying the quiet, and even serenity, of this area, and the resorts healthy and sublime meals. Last night Dun came to pick me up, after dark because it’s noticeably cooler then, and off we went to walk around, eat, and talk. First stop was this family’s fruit market stall, where all sorts of fresh fruit are on display and for sale. But the stall’s big draw is this magnificent mechanical juicer, which produces juice from just about anything. Dun said that the specialite de maison was sugar cane juice, which he ordered for each of us in his fluent Vietnamese.

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The woman wearing the white blouse went over to a bin, picked out a half-dozen two-foot-long stalks of sugar cane, and went to work at the juicer, feeding the stalks two-by-two through the pressing drums over and over again until they had given up their juice and were nothing but flattened fibers. The juice sluiced down into a large pitcher on a shelf right below the pressing drums. She poured each of us a large-size cup of the juice, capped so it would slosh out, stuck a straw in each capped top, and put each cup in a small plastic bag. Dun paid, and out we went. I was confused about the bag. Hold a cup in a plastic shopping bag? After a few minutes in the humidity and heat, the cup inside the bag with was dripping condensation, but my hand holding it was dry. What a great solution! About the cane juice: semi-sweet, lots of bright woodsy tang, very refreshing. We drank it slowly over a street-side light dinner, and talked and watched the pulsing life swirl around us.  — Dun (Number One)

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