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Google goes banh mi doodle

By Minh Nga   March 24, 2020 | 04:30 am PT
Search engines across seven countries on Tuesday will feature a Google Doodle of the signature Vietnamese baguette.
Google goes banh mi doodle

Referring to banh mi as "the savory and satisfying Vietnamese street-food sandwich," the team at Google Doodle, a temporary alteration of the Google logo intended to commemorate holidays, events, achievements, and notable historical figures, chose March 24 to honor the banh mi as on this day in 2011, the Vietnamese treat was admitted into Oxford English Dictionary. 

Describing banh mi as "a smorgasbord of flavors that represents a true melting pot of cultures and ingredients alike," Google's animated doodle, available in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam, shows the making of the most typical banh mi, beginning with a baguette split lengthwise before stuffed with a wide variety of ingredients.

The most basic and popular banh mi in Vietnam is a fusion of cold cuts and vegetables like coriander, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon combined with condiments from French cuisine such as pâté, along with chili and mayonnaise.

However, a wide variety of popular fillings are used, including fried eggs, grilled pork, meat balls, and ice cream.

The official origin of banh mi is yet to be verified, but many agree the idea was introduced to Vietnam in the mid–19th century, when the country formed part of French Indochina, to become a staple by the early 20th century.

During the 1950s, a distinctly Vietnamese style of sandwich developed in Saigon, becoming a popular street food. Following the Vietnam War, overseas Vietnamese popularized the banh mi in countries such as Australia, Canada and the U.S., as what Andrew Lam, a Vietnamese American author and journalist who has written about the overseas Vietnamese experience, wrote in his article for the Huffpost.

In Vietnam, the dish is most popular in the southern parts, and it’s not exaggerating to say one could find a stall selling banh mi just about anywhere in Saigon. The treat is typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack, with prices ranging from VND15,000 ($0.65) to VND50,000 ($2.15).

GoFood, the food delivery platform developed by ride hailing firm GoViet, stated Tuesday since it entered the market in late 2018 until March, it has delivered almost 4.5 million banh mi, with the consumption amount in HCMC double that of Hanoi.

Thanks to its popularity in Vietnam, where it has been recommended as a must-try for all visitors, banh mi has now built quite a reputation worldwide.

In October, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post called Vietnam’s banh mi 'a cheap snack and global hit’ while British travel publication Culture Trip hailed it among the world’s best street snacks.  

The Vietnamese episode of a documentary series on Asian street cuisine aired in April on Netflix, the world's leading internet entertainment service, featured the banh mi from Saigon.

Discussing the global impact of banh mi, Google said in current times, one can find countless spin-offs of the sandwich in street stands, markets, and restaurants across the world, from New York, to Seoul and Saigon. Koreans often enjoy banh mi stuffed with their signature bulgogi (barbeque beef) and kimchi.

In the U.S., many popular recipes have traded the baguette for a brioche bun to create a miniaturized version: banh mi sliders, it said.

Other aspects of Vietnamese culture depicted by Google Doodle thus far include the musical storytelling genre ca tru, the Lunar New Year sticky rice cake banh chung; Khue Van Cac, the pavilion of the Constellation of Literature at Vietnam’s first university in Hanoi; the traditional ao dai dress; Hung Kings Temple Festival which is a commemoration of the mythical founders of Vietnam; and Hoi An ancient town, a UNESCO heritage site in central Vietnam.

Google has also featured three Vietnamese in its doodles: female poet Xuan Quynhpainter Bui Xuan Phai, and lyricist and composer Trinh Cong Son.

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