Bánh Mì Thịt Heo Pork Sandwich – 275 of 365

Pork Sandwich

Think about delicious fresh rolls or even a baguette; they are all just so nice and crunchy on the outside and fluffy soft on the inside.  That bread just screams eat me now.  Well, then you know what happens, too, when you shove it back in a plastic bag and let it sit all day, right?  Somehow all that crunchiness disappears into mushy softness while the insides turn into stretchy rubber.  Biting into this old bread is a laborious affair and you surely know how hard even tearing off a piece can be.  Keep this mental picture alive in the background.

Vietnam is home to some of the tastiest sandwiches on Earth.  We have determined this along the way on this culinary adventure.  These baguettes stuffed with everything from grilled meats to sausages to omelets to animal guts are quite amazing and the prices at just under a buck make them taste all the better.   Subsisting on nothing but banh mi for a  year would pose few if any particular hardships for me.  If Jared can do it at Subway for a year and lose hundreds of pounds eating that processed crap, how difficult could it be to eat a fresh banh mi with real meats every day for a year?  Hmmm…maybe a project for the future!

These banh mi masterpieces always taste best out on the street eaten with the locals.  Find a mobile food cart with a steady clientele and the taste adventure begins.  Tonight I made a rookie mistake in selecting a sandwich well away from the tried and true.  Paris Bistro on Hai Ba Trung Street in District 3 has some passable pastries and a batch of plastic wrapped sandwiches displayed so nicely in an open top cooler begged a try.   At two bucks they were double the price of their street brethren and of course at these rather “expensive” prices, one would expect perfection.

The pork concoction on a sesame seed baguette held so much promise.  Remember the bread description from earlier you’ve been holding in the back of your head?  Time to bring it forward as this is exactly how this food experience started with a giant thud.  Even the fatty pork clinging to the rubbery bread crashed and burned since it tasted like it had taken a swim in some sort of saline bath enroute to the kitchen.  Missing, too, were the hot peppers that infuse so much natural flavor into the normal mix of cilantro, cucumbers, tomatoes, and pickled carrots and daikon.

The pile of bread and meat left behind reaffirmed one of my hypotheses that Saigon’s best meals are generally not found in some air conditioned restaurant foisting a faux “upmarket” western style on the unsuspecting masses.  Indeed, the tastiest meals, in my world at least, come from ordinary people who sell homemade food cooked with tradition and care in more gritty street environs.

Finding an amazing banh mi poses no problem at all in Saigon, and I know exactly where I shall soon head for a proper creation to cleanse my palate of this pork abomination.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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