The humble Banh mi sandwich. Arguably the most popular sandwich on the plant, if not the most consumed per capita per day. Forged from two of the world’s culinary powerhouses, France and Vietnam, the banh mi was lovingly fused together and thrust into the global spotlight, particularly taking off outside of Vietnam in the last 10 years.
The Banh mi was originally a simple peasants food and was spawned out of necessity and seasonality rather than the pursuit of a culinary masterpiece. And like many simple common foods they quickly spawned a unique and exciting food culture all it own to help forge the pathway for these eastern delights onto the common western market.
But what is it?
A Banh mi traditionally Is a baguette that is light and fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Accompanied with Pate, Chilli, Peanuts, Cucumber, Coriander, pickled carrot and daikon radish. The choice of meat option varies significantly with the traditional options being a mix of Vietnamese cold ‘deli’ meats. But I feel this is best served with mouth watering BBQ pulled pork and a fresh Asian slaw for addition crunch!
The banh mi is a all-day any-time meal. Simply delicious at the crack of dawn when the baguettes are hot and toasty from the oven, or arguably even better at 2am as you stumble back to your hostel.
After traveling vietnam extensively back in 2013 with the soul desire to find what made this food so delicious, exciting and unique. I realised that this humble street food was a staple from old Saigon to Hanoi, and was not only amazingly abundant but was also profoundly different from city to city or even vendor to vendor.
I remember a unique light bulb moment as I ate my first ever banh mi in Vietnam. After staying at the ritzy Hotel continental Saigon and consuming a very western continental breakfast, I decided it was past time to find the real essence of old Saigon city. So I hopped in a taxi and after some time managed to communicate that I would buy my driver lunch if he took me to his favourite local lunch spot and get me the most popular dish on the menu. About 30 seconds later we arrived at a small café just down the road. I thought this was a joke, however the banh mi turned out to be a life changing experience 😊