Today’s Doodle celebrates the savory and satisfying Vietnamese street-food sandwich known as bánh mì, a smorgasbord of flavors that represents a true melting pot of cultures and ingredients alike. On this day in 2011, bánh mì was admitted into the Oxford English Dictionary.
Some accounts posit bánh mì’s humble beginnings in the late 1950s street stalls of Saigon’s noisy alleys, but an official origin story is yet to be verified. What is universally accepted about bánh mi’s history: its French inspiration, the staple baguette sandwich.
A traditional bánh mì consists of crispy and airy bread packed with a meat of choice (such as pork pâté, giò lụa, Vietnamese cold cuts, or meatballs), sweet, crunchy veggies and herbs (pickled radishes, carrots, and cilantro), a spread of mayonnaise or margarine, and savory soy sauce, finally topped with chili sauce or peppers. Voilà! By replacing European flavors with Vietnamese ingredients, a tangy and sweet while simultaneously spicy and salty takeaway food was born.
In current times, one can find countless spin-offs of the sandwich in street stands, markets, and restaurants across the world, from New York, to Seoul, to Saigon. Koreans often enjoy bánh mì’s stuffed with their signature bulgogi (barbeque beef) and kimchi. In the U.S., many popular recipes have traded the baguette with a brioche bun to create a miniaturized version: bánh mì sliders.
No matter the variation, you can relish the taste of cultures coming together!