I have an unreasonable love for banh mi sandwiches. Safely ensconced in a plastic chair, meat-stuffed Vietnamese sandwich in hand, we can see firsthand the beneficial effects of French colonialism (baguette, pâté, sometimes mayo) on our modern day lives. The banh mi – the term for the sub-like sandwich and also the term for the baguette used to make it – was introduced to Vietnam by the French during that period, and provides a window into how food and history are unmistakably intertwined. It also provides a good lunch for under $4 at many fine establishments in our city. Fresh tangy vegetables, crusty just-baked roll, and enough room for a waterfall of Sriracha – a perfect Chicago lunch. They can be made with chicken, beef, head cheese … anything up to but excluding Skittles or Sour Patch Kids.
Death Toll Scholl’s version uses thin-pounded chicken, lightly seasoned and quickly grilled. If there’s a Vietnamese place near your place, they usually sell the bread for a handful of change. It’s a good substitution to make, but not a necessary one. You can also use fish sauce for a funky, tangy taste.
Fun fact: “Banh Mi” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011.
Second fun fact: My definition of “fun” is somewhat elastic.