Bahn Mi: Five things you didn’t know about the unique sandwich

Louise Hall
Google Doodle

Google is celebrating the savoury and satisfying Vietnamese street-food sandwich known as bánh mì, with a doodle showing all it’s delicious preparation in motion.

In the doodle, a traditional bánh mì is put together, consisting of a baguette-like bread packed with meat, vegetables and herbs alongside a spread of mayonnaise or margarine and savoury soy sauce, topped fiery with chilli sauce or peppers.

But while it’s universally agreed the sandwich is a tasty meal, where did it come from, and importantly why is it worth celebrating?

Here are five things you might not know about the bánh mì.

The Vietnamese speciality actually has French colonial origin

The French introduced Vietnam to the baguette in the 1860s during its colonisation of the region. Many consider the bánh mì as a cuisine born in part from a French colonial refusal to adopt to a Vietnamese diet, imposing European traditions into the traditional culture. Baguette style bread, a famously identifiable component of French cuisine, was merged into Vietnamese cooking and over time the sandwich became a fusion of the cuisines of the two nations.

Its name literally means bread wheat

In Vietnamese, the word bánh mì is derived from bánh which primarily refers to baked goods including bread and mì meaning wheat. It also may also have the spelling bánh mỳ in northern Vietnam. Bahn Mi is often understood alone to mean “bread”.

They are typically eaten as a breakfast food

The bánh mì is typically eaten at breakfast, usually considered to be too dry for dinner but is often also eaten as a light snack. The dish was and is a food staple of the working markets in Vietnam way before it became a fashionable, a cheap and hearty dish available to the masses.

The sandwich is very popular around the world today

The bánh has become a fashionable food trend around the world over the last decade. Countless versions of the sandwich can be found internationally in street stands, markets, and restaurants. Some regard the Vietnamese dish as ‘the world’s best sandwich’ and cultures across the world appreciate it for many of the same reasons as it’s Vietnamese curators: an affordable and delicious hearty dish.

Bahn Mi is actually a word in the Oxford English Dictionary

On this day in 2011, bánh mì was admitted into the Oxford English Dictionary, the reason behind Google’s celebration of the influential sandwich. Its addition signified a formal recognition of the widespread appreciation of the sandwich outside of Vietnam and around the world.

For those aware of its origin, the dish often reflects Vietnam’s colonial history and this period’s eventual demise. For others it is a unique fusion of cuisines. However, for most, the Bahn Mi stands out as a tasty and flavourful sandwich reminiscent of the rich history of the market food of Vietnam