A new book, “My Quest for Yummy Banh Mi”, charts the culinary tour of a Vietnamese Canadian woman named Thu Nguyen, an avid traveler, photographer and "foodie without borders”, who backpacked through Vietnam searching for the country’s finest crusty bread rolls.
The book covers all aspects of “banh mi” (the Vietnamese version of a sandwich) from the history of the celebrated snack, to preparation and regional variations. Thu also shares plenty of her own travel and eating tips along the way.
As any resident of Vietnam knows, “banh mi” is ubiquitous in every city across the land, sold on sidewalks, near bus-stops, in shops, and outside schools. “Banh mi” ideally should be hot and crunchy. The filling depends on where you are – or what you’re in the mood for. “Banh mi” can be filled with pate or pork meat and always includes a variety of shredded vegetables and heaps of local herbs and spices.
In “My Quest for Yummy Pho”, Thu celebrates this diversity by visiting bakeries, shops and renowned street vendors, in search of pearls of wisdom, local recipes and techniques. The book is punctuated with mouthwatering photographs of delicious “banh mi” sandwiches.
Thu is the founder of “YouCook.ca”, an online magazine featuring recipes and video lessons from chefs. As Canada is a multicultural country, the website began by introducing recipes and chefs from all over the world. But Thu noticed that a few Vietnamese recipes for dishes such as “canh chua” and “bo la lot” were particularly well-received, so she decided to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine and make a concerted effort to promote her motherland’s food.
The next step was coming to Vietnam and beginning a journey that would lead to the first in a series of books: “My Quest for Yummy Banh Mi” was a logical start as Vietnamese bread and Vietnamese-style sandwiches have grown in popularity across the world. Earlier this year, “banh mi” was even added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
So what’s next? “My Quest for Yummy Pho” or “My Quest for Yummy Bun”? Thu is not sure for now, but while she continues to explore Vietnamese cuisine and document her discoveries, we can start with “My Quest for Yummy Banh Mi”, a great resource for home cooks, foodies, travelers to Vietnam and culinary tourists alike and, thanks to the fascinating personal anecdotes, it is also an easy and enjoyable read.
The book has already been released in digital form available from www.youcook.ca or www.questforyummy.com. The print edition is now available in North America and will be published in Vietnam in the near future.