Writing Prompt Story Starter: Vietnamese Meal

story starter

I feel I should begin this Story Starter with a question, in a Loyd Grossman type accent.

“Who would eat a meal like this?”

It’s Vietnamese. Rice, prawns, veg and a delicious piquant sauce. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was delish.

The restaurant is in one of Hamburg’s shopping “passages”, and we sat at a table on a sort of mezzanine outside the restaurant itself. Great for watching the world go by.

The restaurant was full of Asian diners, which seemed like an encouraging endorsement.

We had spent ages online looking for a menu of this type, with its colours and flavours.

We needed a change from Italian, our default selection when we city break like this.

But what if only one of us had liked the food, and the other yearned for something plainer and more . . . well, British?

Right place, right time

Funny thing is the restaurant has been there for years, we realise now — we’ve walked past it umpteen times without seeing it, as it were.

You get people like that, too, don’t you? Invisible until suddenly they become remarkable for some reason. Right place, right time.

I imagine it as a family business. Could it be on its second generation? And were the first generation part of the post-Vietnam-War exodus? Refugees desperate for a new and better life?

If that’s the case, what do they think of the tourists, moving around the world voluntarily for pleasure, when they themselves perhaps had no choice but to leave?

I find myself thinking about the cook.

The food is sumptuous and so beautifully presented. Is it a labour of love for the chef, or just someone doing a job when really they’d rather be a photographer, or a lawyer, or a footballer, if only they had the opportunity?

Sometimes I post a story starter like this and see one or two themes at most, but this one has so much potential.

I’m so looking forward to reading your stories.

For more from Shirley, read her blog here.

Click here to find some inspiration in our archive of Story Starters.

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.