In Vietnam all kind of bread made of wheat is called banh mi. Not long after the French introduced baguette, people of Saigon have learned how to make baguette but made it shorter (20 – 30 cm) instead of 1 meter long as original. Before 1954, when the French pulled out, we called them French sandwiches. But only rich people could afford French bread spread with imported butter, pate and ham. After the French left we started to add Asian ingredients to it, spices and herbs like cilantro, to make it taste better.
The Vietnamese sandwich, sometimes called a “bánh mì sandwich“, is a product of French colonialism in Indochina, combining ingredients from the French (baguettes, pâté, jalapeño, and mayonnaise) with native Vietnamese ingredients, such as coriander, cucumber, and pickled carrots and white radish.
The classic version, bánh mì thịt nguội, sometimes known as bánh mì đặc biệt or “special combo”, is made with various Vietnamese cold cuts, such as sliced pork or pork bellies, chả lụa (pork sausage), and head cheese, along with the liver pâté and vegetables like carrot or cucumbers.
Some restaurants also offer bánh mì chay, a vegetarian option, made with tofu or seitan. In Vietnam, vegetarian sandwiches are less common on the streets. They are usually made at Buddhist temples during special religious events.
In Louisiana, US, a Vietnamese sandwich is known as a “Vietnamese po’ boy.” A restaurant in Philadelphia, US also sells a similar sandwich, marketed as a “Vietnamese hoagie”.
Another option is the breakfast bánh mì, with scrambled eggs served in a baguette. The version eaten more widely for breakfast in Vietnam contains fried eggs with onions, sprinkled with soy sauce, served on a fresh (and sometimes buttered) baguette.
An ice cream sandwich called bánh mì kẹp kem is commonly sold on the street as a snack. It consists of scoops of ice cream stuffed inside a bánh mì, topped with crushed peanuts.
Banh mi was added to the Oxford English Dictionary on 24 March 2011.
Source: Washington Post/Oxford English dictionary/collect & edit0