9.20.2010

Tenacious Tygrlilie, a Bánh Mì Tale - OR - A Light at the End of the Carpel Tunnel

I was over-the-moon DELIGHTED when, by way of email, an old and loyal friend of S365's recently surfaced. Hopeful that the email contained news about her latest creations in amigurumi-style crocheted dolls, etc., I prepared myself for a leisurely visit to her blog (Tygrlilies). Instead, crushing news! A bad case of carpel tunnel has put her amazing crochet work, and her blog on hold for the time being.

Turns out Ms. Tygrlilies had other things on her mind. Such as, why she couldn't find the classic Vietnamese sandwich "Bánh Mì" (a.k.a. Saigon Sub) any where on S365. Thinking my answer would suffice, I gave her my reason and promised to bring a Bánh Mì to the fore soon, but no dice. A day later, Ms. T. emailed again, and this time she brought the goods!

Not only did she seek out and find an establishment in her neck of the woods with a Bánh Mì on the menu, she managed to find the Bánh Mì mother load called "Baguette Express".

A full-on restaurant specializing in.... you guessed it, the Bánh Mì Sandwich. As Ms. T's photos depict, at Baguette Express you can order your Bánh Mì via drive-thru, or go inside to choose from a large and varied menu of sandwich ingredients. Even shop their little store for other VN delicacies. Decidedly Asian, specifically Vietnamese/French Indochinese, it would appear the flavor combinations have managed to cross over in appeal to a decidedly American palate. In translation, Bánh mì Pháp với thịt nướng means Baguette with grilled meat.

Historically, bread is not native to Vietnam and at one time was seen as the food of the 'poor'. Those who could not afford rice, or a place to cook rice had to eat bread for dinner instead of rice.

In the colonial days, the sandwiches were sold in deli's to the French colonials. Around 1940's-1950's, the 'French sandwiches' ("banh mi Tay", literally 'French bread') became a status symbol, and cheaper versions of them started to show up in Vietnamese stores. Basic Bánh Mì ingredients consist of thinly sliced pickled carrots, diakon, cucumbers, cilantro, chili peppers, pate, mayo and a choice of grilled pork, sausage, ham or chicken on a French baguette, 'Po Boy' style.

Many, many thanks to Ms. Tygrlilies for her curiosity, appetite and tenacity in bringing this MUST HAVE addition to the S365 sandwich mix.

12 comments:

  1. Looks pretty darn delicious! And how wonderful that Ms. Tigerlilies is still around and still checking in! Love it all!

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  2. LOL! I made it onto S365, Ma!! I'm famous!

    Oh, and guess what else? 3 days later I was in my little kitchen making my own Saigon Subs. A little cilantro, a few pickled ingredients and voila'! PLUS this month's edition of Westways, (The Auto club's magazine)has a special feature on yup, you guessed it, a food truck that specializes in Vietnamese Sandwiches! Oh yes...I think this topic demands a LOT more research!
    NomNom,
    TygrLily

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  3. Cute story. Did you see the Great Food Truck Race on Food Network? One of the finalists was Nom Nom truck, which hails from LA, and specializes in, you guessed it, bánh mì. They won everything up to the very end but lost out to a burger truck (which, for the record, made pretty amazing looking burgers).

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  4. Tygrlily's biggest fan9/21/10, 8:42 PM

    I saw the great American Food Truck Race with
    Nom Nom! I want to try one of those sandwiches so badly!! Thanks Ms.Tygrlily!! Now I know where to go!

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  5. While I have never tried a banh mi, I SO want to! This looks amazing. I've only heard good things. Thanks for reminding me. I'm on the hunt now!

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  6. We love Vietnamese food...but have never had the pleasure of enjoying a Banh Mi sandwich. It sounds and looks really tasty but it may be a bit hard to find here in East Tennessee. It would have been a lot easier when we lived in Chicago. Keep those sandwiches coming! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

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  7. Oh, I made a Bánh Mì sandwich through one of the magazines and thought I'd died and gone to heaven. It was an amazingly wonderful explosion of flavors. Definitely a must-have recipe.

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  8. Great story and that Poboy looks fab! So nice of her to send you the pics. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your nice comment!

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  9. I love Banh Mi, the grilled pork ones are my favorite! That topping combination of shredded carrots, cilantro, jalapenos, etc. is unusual and lively, and thinking of the crusty baguette it's served on makes my mouth water. Thanks for reminding me about them, I just might have to grab one for lunch tomorrow.

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  10. Yum - a good sub, but I don't believe I've ever had a Banh Mi. A well made sub is one of the best sandwiches in the world. The wrapping with the "special" on the side really makes it special.
    Sam

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  11. This is a fabulous post ! Banh Mi may be one of my all-time favorite sandwiches !

    Where I live, Philadelphia, we have 2 huge Vietnamese communities -- in the Northeast and South. Both places tout incredible little family owned shops with Banh Mi's, really good baguettes. My favorite place is in a little stip mall and there's older woman who is in charge -a veritable "Hoagie Nazi" who gives everyone the business in Vietnamese -- I made good friends with her and make sure to tip her personally each time and she makes mine extra special !

    Thanks for posting K !!!!

    ~ the other K

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  12. I love that Asian countries are slowly adopting the sandwich.

    When I lived in China, I missed sandwiches so badly. You take it for granted until you ask for one and people throw noodles at you.

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