I think I’m the last person on the planet who has had the Vietnamese sandwich, banh mi, added to her food radar. The first time I saw anything about them was in one of my food magazines about a year ago. Anything with bright veggies gets my attention — especially if it’s salad. But a salad in a sandwich? This had to be good. Pickled carrots, cucumber with cilantro…and pork? I’d never heard of this particular kind of sandwich before. It was interesting that it was on a French baguette, too. An easy search led me to Battle of the Bahn Mi and then to White on Rice for some amazing renditions of this sandwich.
My first attempt follows. After much procrastination, I’ve finally joined the ranks of those who love this sandwich.
Now, I need to find a local place that makes them.
I could eat them every day.
I’ve always been someone who enjoys a great salad, so it should be no surprise that I’ve become quite comfortable working my way through Mark Bittman’s 101 Simple Salads for the Season. The 12-page print out is showing signs of wear with jottings of ingredients I’ve added, dates I prepared each that I’ve made, and stars to denote the direction I may next take. Oh, the possibilities. Of course, that would depend on the condition of the veggies I purchased when my eyes were bigger than my ability to follow through in an organized manner.
Let’s face it — mushrooms only last so long if one doesn’t push the idea that they prefer the open air to being wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge. Or consider the Jerusalem artichokes that met an untimely demise because I didn’t have one of the ingredients I needed to make Salad No. 5. And then there was the jicama that had seen better days long before I cut into it, surprised that it’s possible to find jicama in San Diego in that condition. Perhaps salad No. 9 wasn’t meant to be on that particular day.
Honestly, I’ve grown to enjoy “The List” as it promises so much as long as I’m prepared, and goodness knows when it comes to food, I’m usually prepared. The salads are so easily made and adapted that reviewing a section prepares you for the shopping and if the ingredients are remotely connected to what Bittman suggests, then I say fair game and a salad is born.
This past Sunday, I enjoyed salads No. 14 and 26 respectively; one for lunch and the other shared for dinner with grilled beef. Each was so different, yet delicious, and that is what has kept me interested. You just never know when you may find the opportunity to pair fennel and prune plums again in your lifetime, right?
Bear with me as I continue this exploration of textures and flavors — baked goodies will always be on the horizon.
I’d like to believe the weather we’ve been enjoying is here to stay, but I know our small slice of Paradise much too well. Instead of the often sweltering heat we experience in August, we’ve been treated to grey skies, cool, moist breezes, and yesterday, fat drops of rain that teased us late in the afternoon. It’s only a matter of time when vacations become a fleeting memory, kids are back in school, and freeways are once again jammed with rush hour traffic that it will get hot here and stay that way well into October. The heat saps one’s energy after a long day and making dinner usually isn’t high on the priority list, unless it’s something easy to make, cool, and satisfying. The added perk is that it’s healthy.
This soup’s for you on those evenings. It’s creamy without being full of fat-laden calories as long as you go easy on the cilantro creme. Make extra, because it’s even better the next day.