I love Vietnamese spring rolls--the tangy bite from the fresh mint leaves, the bright zestiness from the basil layered in the filling, and the cool, crisp texture of the chilled iceberg lettuce when accompanied by the crunchy, ocean-seasoned shrimp. This dish exemplifies the freshness of the "spring" season, when gardens are infused with the fragrance of the blooming flowers; the herb plants are abundant with rich, leafy greens; and fruits buckle off the trees at the slightest jostle.
However, just because I voraciously consume these lil' snacks, does not mean I like making them. Whenever I make them, they end up looking like mutated franken-fritters. (See images above and below.)
These pictures do not do justice of how hard it is to handle the delicate and sticky film wrapper. The tenuous wrapper snags and tears open like nylon stockings catching on a jagged fingernail. For those of you unfamiliar with nylons, I would compare it to handling an aged rubber balloon that has been exposed to the sun after sitting in a windowsill for several years.
Unfortunately, until I master the art of "rice wrapper manipulating," I will be relegated to purchasing these rolls at one of those delicious Vietnamese sandwich shops in the Tenderloin District, or only making the rolls when I have a full day off work and two full days of patience.