For a person who likes sandwiches, there’s nothing better than a Vietnamese pork roll or Banh Mi Thit.
Imagine warm, freshly baked baguette, filled with roast pork belly, pork terrine, slathered with liver pate and mayonaise, brightened with pickled carrots, cucumbers; the bite of raw spring onion, chilli and cilantro…and of course a delicate sprinkling of fish sauce.
The very thought of this amazing sandwich was enough to drive us onto the streets shouting “Baaagguuete! Baaagguuete!” And when you find a place with a good Banh Mi, you immediately buy as many of them as you think you can eat, and make sure you return every day of your stay.
When you bite into the sandwich, the hearty richness of liver in the pate mingles with the pungent aroma of fish sauce to create pure ‘umami’ – or the fifth taste as the Japanese call it (an addition to the basic sweet, sour, bitter, salty). It’s the feeling of completeness that rounds out the taste of the food and makes it whole; and it perpetrates your entire mouth. Where you can’t help but to close your eyes and concentrate on nothing but the sensation taking over your palate. I like to call it “an orgasm in your mouth” – not so refined as the Japanese way, but a darn accurate description of the what’s going on on your tongue. A good piece of sushi will do that to you, and so will this Banh Mi…