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Vietnam dramas tap into ‘banh mi’ to promote national culinary culture

Thursday, October 08, 2020, 15:36 GMT+7
Vietnam dramas tap into ‘banh mi’ to promote national culinary culture

Two Vietnamese dramas have recently put a spotlight on the country’s cuisine by building stories around the world-famous ‘banh mi’ sandwich.

Coincidentally, both Ho Chi Minh Television Channel HTV7 and Vinh Long Province’s THVL1 have recently released dramas revolving around Vietnam’s famed sandwich. 

‘Banh Mi Ong Mau’ (Mr. Mau’s Sandwich) on HTV7 and ‘Vua Banh Mi’ (King of Sandwiches) –based on the South Korean original ‘Bread, Love and Dreams’ – on THVL1 are the talk of Vietnamese television thanks to their unique focus on one of Vietnam’s culinary delights.

‘Banh Mi Ong Mau’ tells the story of a man who wishes to realize his mother’s unfinished dream of developing a chain of ‘banh mi’ stalls while ‘Vua Banh Mi’ depicts family conflicts and the budding careers of young people through a family with a ‘banh mi’ business.

The producers of both dramas hope their products will help promote ‘banh mi’ – a famous Vietnamese dish consisting of a baguette stuffed with cold cuts, paté, vegetables, mayonnaise, and optional chilies – to the world.

A scene in Vietnamese TV drama ‘Vua Banh Mi’

A scene in Vietnamese TV drama ‘Vua Banh Mi’

Nguyen Quang Minh, director of ‘Banh Mi Ong Mau,’ said that his TV series focuses on highlighting the importance of making fillings and sauce for ‘banh mi,’ particularly meatballs with salted eggs and bacon with black pepper sauce. 

Meanwhile, ‘Vua Banh Mi’ shows off the characters’ baking skills.

Despite borrowing the storyline from a 2010 South Korean TV drama, director Phuong Dien localized the show for his Vietnamese remake.

“We modified the original script, detailing ‘banh mi’ with meat, fresh vegetables, and spices that [Vietnamese] people often have for breakfast. In the original version, the breads were sweet dishes,” director Phuong Dien said.

Actor Cao Minh Dat, who plays the male lead in ‘Vua Banh Mi,’ along with several other actors on the show, had to learn professional baking before filming began.  

A scene in Vietnamese TV drama ‘Vua Banh Mi’

A scene in Vietnamese TV drama ‘Vua Banh Mi’

However, Dien admitted that some baking scenes in his drama have fallen short of his expectations due to limited budgets, facilities, and time.

Likewise, director Minh said that it is not easy to convince viewers of a food drama.

“Therefore, ‘Banh Mi Ong Mau’ just partially taps into making ‘banh mi’ and keeps a focus on entrepreneurship and the pursuit of passion,” Minh said.

Scriptwriter Hoang Anh, who is of the same opinion as Minh, said that producing a culinary TV series is not an easy job and requires a huge investment in every scene.

“Attention to color correction factors and techniques is required in post-production," Anh said.

"Culinary TV dramas cost a lot of money, but the budget of a Vietnamese drama is the same for every genre and has not changed for years."

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