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Culture Crossing’s Weekly Feature Interview Star Crossing Archives

Allison Fishman is the host of TLC's Home Made Simple as well as the founder of The Wooden Spoon. This week Allison tells of her experiences in Vietnam

Name: Allison Fishman
Nationality: USA
Profession: Culinary Teacher
Passion(s): Home cooking, learning, urban and rural living, NP

Name a country where you’ve experienced cultural differences: Vietnam

Describe one of those experiences: The vendors are very assertive, especially the young moped drivers. I was traveling with a very friendly friend, who had a very difficult time saying no to people. This became different, especially when these drivers would wait for us for hours outside of our hotel, museums, or restaurants. They would follow us around (always in a very nice way), in order to ensure that they'd be first in line whenever we decided we wanted a moped. Sometimes, we just wanted to walk, which was somewhat incomprehensible, as locals don't really do all that much walking; it's either cycling or moped.

What did you learn about your own culture from that experience? I certainly appreciate a little selling distance, and though I'm always complaining that Brooklyn vendors aren't proactive enough, or even helpful enough, it is nice to be anonymous for a little way and not harangued to do things you don't want to do when you don't want to do them. That said, these were folks very eager to get paid, and it showed. That same entrepreneurial hunger is not something you see in this country.

If you were going to adopt a custom, gesture, or trait from another culture,
what would it be?
I like those little masks that Vietnamese women wear on bikes and mopeds, especially with the knock-off Hello Kitty logo on them. I bought one, fully intending to wear it when I motorcycled around New York. I wore it once. I like the modesty and the femininity of the women, and also their power as very vital business people in Vietnam. I liked the feminine / assertive combination.

Where would you like your next culture crossing adventure to take you? I'm due for a trip to Europe -- Italy, I think.

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