Wednesday, April 08, 2009
The cult of the Banh Mi is gaining traction in the States and I'm happy the cat is finally out of the bag. I discovered my first sometime in the early 80's while driving around Houston blasted out of my gourd on c. sativa and mandrax. A large community of Vietnamese had resettled there after the War and the swampy, stiiffling heat plus accesss to fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico must have reminded them of Vietnam itself. The sandwich was a revelation of salty, sweet bbq'd pork, chilis, cilantro and creamy pâté on a perfect french baguette. And the price of was a magnificent 50¢. Mr Nguyen's shop became a stoner destination of sorts for anyone I could convince to tag along.
But it's always been a bit hard to find Banh Mi, short of endlessly drugged-out driving escapades, for the perplexing reason that Vietnamese restaurants didn't serve them. They were solely the provinance of the sandwich shops and street stalls. While portions of California have long been dependable Bahn Mi sources, variations on my favorite sandwich are just now beginning to explode across New York City, which means franchises from Iowa City to Ybor City can't be far behind.
Happily, the tide has turned and while Banh Mi may not be Texas BBQ both Texans and the Vietnamese owe a nod to the French, so Viva la France and make mine spicy!