Innovation is a key word that we often use at present. In history, especially in war times, there were lots of innovations happened. Believe it or not, those innovations sometimes have become lessons for generations. Using rice paper rolls as the main food in a battle might uncover a mysterious victory in the past.
This was the question in a historical war in the Vietnamese history in the 18th century: how could a troop of 60,000 soldiers move fast by feet, and how to supply the food to the troop for a 40-day marching.
In Vietnam history, the 18th century (1788-1789), there was a historically mysterious victory in a battle led by the Emperor Quang Trung against the Quing invasion from China at Hanoi (present name). There was no officially historical document to show how the Emperor could move fast his large troop (60,000 soldiers) from Hue (present name) to Hanoi (present name). The covered distance by feet assumed 48 km per day within 40 days. A legend said that the Emperor applied two logistic innovations in his famous battle.
Firstly, the Emperor grouped 3 soldiers with a hammock in each group. Two soldiers carried the third tired soldier who was taking rest in the hammock. They took turn to rest in the hammock while the others kept moving. With this way, the soldiers marched day and night without break time.
Secondly, cooking with smoking did not happen. Smoke from cooking could alarm the Chinese army. The soldiers made food without cooking. They used rice paper and “banh trang” (a bigger and thicker version of rice paper) to create the rice paper rolls food with the water. They prepared meat jerky in advance, and they collected vegetables on the way when the soldiers passed villages. The soldiers made big rolls in this way as the main food to keep the marching task at the highest pace.
Nowadays, in Binh Dinh province in Vietnam, people are still eating the rice paper rolls in a very big size. This is like the traditional food which has been keeping for more than two hundred years.
Book: Authentic Vietnamese Wraps and Rolls by Bui Thi Suong.
Photo of Ngoc Hoi- Dong Da Victory Celebration by VGP, from Vietnam Investment Review, vir.com.vn.