HCMC to host first banh mi festival at the end of March

By Bich Phuong   March 10, 2023 | 12:50 am PT
Vietnam' first banh mi festival will be held at the Youth Cultural House in Ho Chi Minh City’s (HCMC) District 1 from March 30 to April 2.

The festival, which will feature 120 pavilions from restaurants, bakeries, and domestic and foreign suppliers, is organized by the Vietnam Tourism Association and the HCMC Department of Tourism. Along with the traditional banh mi, or Vietnamese baguette, other types of bread, such as banh mi que (breadsticks), and French baguettes will be featured.

The event also includes a seminar on the evolution of Vietnamese banh mi, with famous chefs introducing 105 dishes that are served with a baguette. Attendees can sample popular banh mi brands for free. There will also be a poll for Vietnam's top 50-year-old famous banh mi brand.

According to Nguyen Thi Khanh, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh Tourism Association, the organizers are proposing March 24 as Vietnam Banh Mi Day. The term "banh mi" first appeared in the Oxford dictionary on March 24, 2011.

A banh mi is filled with cold cuts in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

A banh mi is filled with cold cuts in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

According to Kao Sieu Luc, president of the International Bakery Association of Southeast Asia, there are several differences that explain why banh mi is such a popular food.

During his time as a judge of international culinary competitions, Luc was often asked how different banh mi is from the French baguette. He explained that banh mi has a crispy and thin crust, while soft and spongy inside. Meanwhile, the French baguette has a hard and crispy crust and is quite chewy on the inside. The bread recipe when introduced to Vietnam has changed to suit Vietnamese people. He also mentioned that the fillings are responsible for the majority of the tasty flavors. Ham, pate, herbs, pickles, and sliced green chili are must-have fillings.

Vietnamese banh mi was ranked sixth among the world's 50 best street foods by international cuisine magazine Taste Atlas in February.

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