Obama visits Vietnam, eats with the only available expert on Vietnamese food, Anthony Bourdain

Image: Reuters/Carlos Barria
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Between diplomatic agreements, Barack Obama is being well fed.

The US president is in Vietnam this week to announce new joint economic agreements and formally usher in a new period of friendship between the two nations. He is also dutifully following a longstanding tradition that dictates tall foreigners must try to balance on the low plastic stools (Vietnamese) common in casual restaurants throughout the country.

On Monday night, Obama and American chef-turned-TV personality Anthony Bourdain squeezed in at Hương Liên in Hanoi to eat bún chả. The grilled pork patties served in a bowl of fish sauce, along with vermicelli noodles, herbs, and lettuce on the side, are a staple of northern Vietnamese cuisine.

Bourdain, the host of CNN’s Parts Unknown, is a known fan of Vietnamese street food, and visited the country often throughout the course of his eight-season show, No ReservationsAccording to a tweet, the $6 meal was his treat.

People seem delighted to see Obama in a hole-in-the-wall street food joint, beer in hand. Bourdain’s Instagram photo of the meal, posted five hours ago at time of writing, is already his most successful in the last year, with 100,000 hearts and counting, twice as many as any other of the year’s posts.