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Ho Chi Minh City to host first-ever 'banh mi' festival

Friday, March 10, 2023, 15:45 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City to host first-ever 'banh mi' festival
A file photo shows foreign tourists buying 'banh mi' at a street stall in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

A festival celebrating Vietnamese 'banh mi' will be organized in Ho Chi Minh City for the first time later this month.

Banh mi -- a Vietnamese baguette filled with cold cuts, pate, Vietnamese-style mayonnaise, pickles, and herbs -- has spent the past several years growing in popularity amongst foodies from around the globe.

Canadian travel blogger Alyshia Turchyn introduces 'banh mi' during her food tour around Ho Chi Minh City held by Vietnam Life.

The upcoming Banh Mi Festival will host 120 booths from restaurants, bakeries, and suppliers from Ho Chi Minh City, across Vietnam, and outside the country.

It will also host a seminar about the development of Vietnamese banh mi, with 105 types of fillings for the baguette made by famous chefs showcased to visitors.

In addition, the festival will honor some of Vietnam’s most storied banh mi brands.

Banh mi samples from famous bakeries will also be given out to visitors for free.

Speaking at a press conference to announce the Banh Mi Festival on Thursday afternoon, a representative from Nguyen Sinh -- a banh mi brand which has been serving in the city for the past 80 years -- said the bakery plans to prepare 420 kilograms of pate to give away to guests.

“Besides traditional types of banh mi, other types of bread sticks, French breads, and banh mi of different styles will be introduced at the festival, representing the richness of this dish," Nguyen Thi Khanh, president of the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association, said at the press conference.

The organizers shared their wish that March 24 would be recognized as the Day of Vietnamese Banh Mi.

A file photo shows people enjoying banh mi on the street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

A file photo shows people enjoying 'banh mi' on the street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Speaking at the conference, Kao Sieu Luc, president of the International Bread Association of Southeast Asia, recounted his story of being asked to distinguish the differences between a Vietnamese banh mi and a French baguette.

The Vietnamese banh mi is dedicated to Asian diets and eating styles so the bread is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, while French baguettes are normally hard, crispy, and chewy, Luc said.

However, what makes Vietnamese banh mi delicious is its fillings, which typically include cold cuts, pate, herbs, and sliced green chili.

Luc also noted that although there is a World Bread Day (October 16), Vietnamese banh mi deserves to have its own celebration.

“The Vietnamese word ‘banh mi’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary on March 24 in 2011,” Luc said.

“We want to make this day the Day of Vietnamese Banh Mi.”

The first Banh Mi Festival in Ho Chi Minh City will take place at the Youth Culture House in District 1 from March 30 to April 2.

The fest is expected to be held annually in the hope of promoting local cuisine and boosting tourism.

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N.Binh - Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

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