Like the owl, my mom asked, “Who won the aprons?” I stayed at my parents’s home this weekend, a little retreat after doing 3 banh mi events in 3 days; I did private events at Google LAX and for Los Angeles journalists, as well as a public demo at Surfas Culinary Center. I was a little busy to say the least, and when I checked in with the voting, there was some serious campaigning going on. Many people worked super hard to get family and friends to vote. By 5pm on Sunday, five winners emerged.
When I notified them, I was curious about who they were and their Viet food story. So I asked and got a few great responses.
Mike from Guam was the top vote getter. I loved his Facebook conversation with his friends who came out big time for his banh mi selfie.
My mother (RIP) is Vietnamese. Out of us siblings, I'm the only one that can still speak our native tongue. Reading and writing is very slow now but thanks to Google, it does help…not always proper but it reminds me. My mother is from the North but migrated to the South…my brother and sisters and I were born and raised in Saigon. When I speak Vietnamese to others here in Guam, they spot my 'Bac ky' [northern] dialect right away LOL..coz most of them are Nguoi Nam 🙂
Guam was a stop for Vietnamese refugees like my family that were among the first wave to flee by airplane from Saigon in 1975. Most of us went to the mainland or elsewhere. How did Mike’s family end up in Guam?
My Father is retired U.S. Army. He sent Mom and kids out about a month before actual evacuation took place in 1975. Dad stayed behind to sponsor more of our people out and was very successful with his efforts. Guam just became home since although we traveled quite a bit…always returned to our new home, Guam. We even lived in Singapore for 3-5 years, some of us, give or take.
Cam on nhieu lam Chi Andrea [thank you older sister] but please feel free to give my winnings to other contestants as you deem necessary, I really enjoyed nagging my friends to vote for me on a daily basis LOL …just glad now I can sleep LOL. Quyen really had me close to a heart attack. 🙂
Spoken like a true gentleman. But the prize is going to Mike. My mother and I insist upon it.
Then there was Annette who years ago mailed me chiles from her Sacramento garden! She got her kids into the act. I’m not a parent and asked Annette what it is like these days to maintain a home, parent, cook good food and blog too!
I'm a mother of two girls who can't sit still but manage to find myself cleaning up the house, working in the yard, touching up paint on the walls, knocking down the spider webs , or in the kitchen experimenting with a new recipe or cooking up something for the family to enjoy. The remainder of the day, you would find me on the road as my girls' chauffeur for their various extracurricular activities. My day is not over until super is on the table. I am lucky to have my husband help out with the dishes so I can blog away after dinner. Lol
If you've been following my vietspices.blogspot.com you would know how much my girls love being in the kitchen with me. Since they were able to eat solid food, I never needed to cook separate meals for them. We always sit down together and enjoy the same meals. Their pho (rice noodle soup) would have all the essential garnishes such as basil, chopped green onion, cilantro, bean sprout, etc as I wanted my girls to be able to enjoy a variety of food of different taste and texture.
Annette’s banh mi is filled with crispy roast pork. (If you want to make it with Chinese-style roast pork belly or leg, there’s a recipe on page 93 of the book.) I asked her how she decided on that sandwich:
Roast pork is one of the Vietnamese dishes that my girls really enjoy. I entered the #banhmiselfie contest the very last minute while roasting the pork for the banh mi. It was by chance that I stumbled upon the #banhmiselfie post on your Facebook.
The idea of a roast pork sandwich came to me on the day I was at Selland's for lunch. The exact words "Roast Pork Banh Mi" was on their menu and I thought to myself, "What could be better than banh mi with crispy roast pork enveloped in a bed of crunchy, sweet and sour pickled daikon,carrots, fresh cilantro, succulent cucumbers topped with the mild heat of jalapeño?" Nothing!
Toni lives in Minnesota and I wondered what Vietnamese food was like there. Her thoughtful email totally made my day, if not my year:
First, I would just like to thank you for hosting this contest. It was such an enjoyable fun experience for all my family and friends from here to Vietnam to Switzerland. They all loved it. My co-workers kept asking what's a Banh Mi, so I send them the link to your blog and your book. 🙂
I was born in Saigon and moved to Minnesota when I was 12. I remember growing up in Vietnam, going to the market everyday with my mom and cooking everything fresh from scratch. I loved everything about it. Mom and I also like to eat so she would take me with everywhere she went. I can still remember where the best stalls for banh cuon, pho, bun bo hue, bun oc and nem nuong were. I was about 10 when my dad and older siblings left the Vietnam so it was just mom, my brother and myself. Mom decided to stay behind because of my elderly grandparents. She was teaching during the day to make ends meet so it was up to me to cook for the family. I remember cooking my first chicken (yes, it was still alive) and making canh cua rau đay mồng tơi và mướp [soup with Malabar spinach and squash] with live crabs purchased from the market.I was much more giỏi [high achieving] than I am now, LOL.
The Viet food scene in Minnesota is okay in my opinion, nothing compare to California. To get good quality Vietnamese food, one would have to make it at home. My family and I would make a trip every year to California just to eat. 🙂
With that said, Minnesota only has a few banh mi places. I can't find any places here that make a banh mi like the way I remember it back in Vietnam so I try to make it myself at home. Also because in the middle of winter, you wouldn't want to drive across town to get a banh mi. This picture was taken last winter, everything was made from the freezer and what I had in the house at that time except for the bread. As you can see, I didn't have any jalapenos. I did make my own mayonnaise though. I love love banh mi, it is my favorite Viet food so when I saw your book I was super excited because I want to master the techniques of making the best banh mi ever. 🙂
I have two of your cookbooks already so I am super excited to add this one to my collection.
Thank you, Andrea, for sharing you love of food and your expertise with all of us! We are truly grateful!
A-hah! Now I understand why Toni’s Facebook friends are asking her to start a little banh mi business!
The other two top vote getter included Quyen from Mountain View and Tham in Preston, Australia. Quyen just emailed that she's got two giggly girls to manage and was having a tough time carving out time for email. Here's her shot of the girls, who seem to just love being sisters:
My older sister gifted me "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" years ago when I was in college and learning to cook for myself. As far as I know, she is your biggest fan! We hope to take a cooking class of yours in the future when our kids are a little older. I took the photo with inspiration from the scene in the animated movie, "The Lady and the Tramp" where the two dogs are sharing a plate of spaghetti and wind up eating different ends of the same noodle. The sandwich was dac biet – cold cuts and pate, absolutely delicious. My older daughter was so eager to eat the bread that I couldn't get a clear photo, so it became an action shot! It was all thanks to my older brother and my new sister in law that I was able to win. They campaigned and drew upon their network of friends and colleagues to vote. Their two day wedding took place on the last two days of voting. Had they not been so occupied with the happy occasion, Mike from Guam wouldn't have had the top spot. I really love IVK cookbook and have cooked for my family from it many times. My dad was impressed when I made the stuffed squid dish for his birthday. I now make the bun rieu from the cookbook as well. The cans of seasoning all have peanut in it and my daughter has a peanut allergy, so I was beyond thrilled to be able to make her one of my favorite foods.Thank you very much for hosting the contest. I look forward to trying out recipes from the banh mi cookbook! Maybe the next cookbook can be solely dedicated to noodles!
Tham and her daughter Bella inspired us all in many ways. I didn't know much about Melbourne's Viet food scene so I asked Tham to weigh in.
Such an awesome gesture from you and your team with opening the competition to us “Aussies”. Funnily enough, my gorgeous girlfriend Rose ordered a copy of your book for me just in case Bella didn’t go far enough.
My hubby and I live in Melbourne (voted the most liveable city for the last 4 years), it’s a beautiful, clean and safe city with food being a massive focus and very big also, is Vietnamese food and culture. Vietnamese food is definitely loved very much, my Melbournians! We’re so lucky and completely spoilt in Melbourne with the abundance range of Asian produces we get. Victoria street in Melbourne is the home to many gorgeously delicious Vietnamese restaurants and Asian groceries stores. I won’t lie, the street can get a little messy and sometimes intoxicating overwhelming with the smell of roast pork and everything else roasting but it is always lively and busy with many Melbournians flocking here for lunch and dinner. Street food is killing it in Melbourne at the moment so, would love to see you in Melbourne doing one of your workshops!
My mom says that I was a good eater at a young age so I asked what 3-year-old Bella enjoyed. She's rather adventurous:
My family of 3 eats out lots, a bit too much but we love it and we won’t have it any other way. Bella loves to eat, she’s a very nourished child! Bella’s favourite cuisines are Japanese and Indian, I know, same-same, but extremely different right? Bella has her favourite Japanese restaurant and Indian restaurant and knows exactly what she wants. I love instilling the awareness of culture with Bella because I feel, great food is definitely the way in to all hearts. Bella likes her ‘banh mi’ simple with a little mayo, pate, cha lua [a silky Mortadella-like sausage] and only cucumber but bread has to be fresh and crispy on the outside but soft and light in the inside a favourite.
There were runner-ups too – Arlene, Jo, and Mike, who I hope to send a small token of my appreciation.
The Banh Mi Selfie Contest was a great way to showcase Vietnamese sandwiches and have some fun. In the end, it was also great for telling our personal journeys through food. Thank you everyone for taking part!
Upcoming event: If you're in Los Angeles, join me on Friday night at the historic Grand Central Market in downtown. I've been cooking up a Banh Mi Day with market vendors and it's happening on October 10!
- Banh Mi specials all day long: Horse Thief BBQ, Valerie, Sticky Rice, DTLA cheese, Eggslut, G&B Coffee and Belcampo will make a special Viet-style sandwiches and beverage. See the menu here.
- Evening event: From 6:30 to 8pm near the Hill Street entrance, I'm teaming up with several vendors and Sriracha Cookbook author Randy Clemens to do tastings and demos. I'm making a couple of tortas de Vietnam with Mexican ingredients from the market. Randy is making his tempeh recipe in The Banh Mi Handbook (page 112). The demo and tastings are FREE. Yes, books will be on sale and I'd be honored to sign your copy.
This is going to be a great salute to Vietnamese food and cooking.