Is It Bad to Have Vietnamese Food Going Mainstream
Wide-spread popularity is good for Viet food, but when it gets too big and everybody is doing it, there's a risk of Viet food becoming something else, whether we like it or not.
Ok, we know Viet food is now popular in North America, Australia and even Europe. Many people (Viet and non-Viet restaurateurs) are jumping on the bandwagon.
I guess one can blame ourselves for making Viet food popular. We serve great tasting pho, and chefs like Charles Phan doing what he did with Vietnamese foods at the Slanted Door and other ventures (in a good way); he took it to the next level. But these days, American chefs are really taking Viet food to a completely different, parallel levels.
What Rachel Ray did to pho was pretty bad I must say, but here's an article proclaiming how to make the "Perfect" Vietnamese banh mi with recipe by an American chef. There's nothing wrong with what chef Chad Rosenthal is doing with "our" banh mi, and I wouldn't mind if Anthony Bourdain makes his own version (but he won't because he's all about not changing an already good thing). My personal opinion is, where creativity flourishes, you should let it take its own course. But it is still a mixed feeling for me, and I'm sure many of you as Viet restaurateurs probably share the same feeling as mine.
On the one hand, we love to have Vietnamese food and pho and banh mi spread all over. What could be cooler than that? But on the other hand, the inner me always wonders: where is Vietnamese food heading with all these changes? It's like somebody taking something very personal to me, and starts messing with it. Don't we own our foods? Apparently not.
In the end, as long as people continue to pay to eat pho and other Viet foods then who cares right? Still...
See why I'm struggling with this?
Make the Perfect Vietnamese Bánh mì Sandwich
Check out the interview of Charles Phan with Lynne Rossetto Kasper of the Spendid Table...
The secret to real pho is the stock