Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When not to eat a Banh Mi

Ahhhh Gay Paris...

People have been asking my why I haven't been blogging recently. I had to explain that I actually had to BE in Jordan to blog about living in Jordan. Yes, I have gone back to paris for 6 weeks and subjected myself to an unrelentless bombardment of muslim sin.

Elodie asked me what I wanted to do as soon as I got off the plane. I replied, 'I want BOOZE, PORK PRODUCTS, AND I WANT TO SLEEP IN WITHOUT BEING WOKEN UP BY A MOSQUE AT 5 AM'.

The next tier down from that list is international food and entertainment which are the two other things in short supply in Amman (here, Bennigans is listed as a 3 star restaurant) . No Pho, no bibimbap, and the so called 'sushi' restaurants are all run with Philippinos pretending to be Japanese. I went up to the sushi bar once at The Living Room and said 'kamusta ka (hello in Tagolog)' and the blood from his face drained as sheer white panic gripped him. He didn't say anything, but I could read his mind. SH*T! The gigs up! I've been exposed! Somone knows my name really isn't Nakamura!

Luckily for me, I have friends who have culture in France. I got my ass dragged down to ART exhibits, which for me is 10 times more effective at putting me to sleep than an extra strength NyQuil. Since I was forced to see art, I forced them to eat Vietnamese. Vietnamese food that is... not the people.

A recent controversy sparked by a New York Times article got me interested in checking out the legendary Vietnamese sandwich. Man these Vietnamese are really pissed off about changing a sandwich! You would think that with all that anger Ho Chi Minh himself was behind all of this!

So off we went to Belleville in the 10th district, the now up and coming place to get your 'grub on' for asian food. Mike, Sabrina, and Peggy.. the three French that I brought with me were pretty hesitant about walking in with all these asians everywhere and strange mystery meats spread out all over the sandwich counter. Vietnamese salami, chilis, paté, a tub of gloopy vietnamese mayonnaise. My favorite topping is fromage de tête, which is chopped pigs ears held together with savoury gelatin. It makes the sandwich 'croquant' which is translated to CRUNCHY!

I bit into the Banh Mi and ran a mental check in my head to see if it was authentic.

Savory Vietnamese Mayo on bottom slice of bread - CHECK
Salty mystery meat - CHECK
Crudite - CHECK
Cleared sinuses from eating raw chilis - CHECK
Bleeding gums and scratched up roof of mouth from chomping into Crunchy Bread - CHECK

It was so authentically good that I saved half of the sandwich for savouring throughout the day.

So Mike, Sabrina, and Peggy brought me to an exhibit that they thought wouldn't bore me to tears. Its called the Our Body exhibit in Paris and its a scientific exhibit where they took 20 dead people from China and sliced them up into 100 cross sections to teach about anatomy. Its amazing that our countries are so dependent on China for cheap imports, we even go to them for cheaper dead bodies! Coincidentally, I just read that the French government has shut down the exhibit because it offends public decency. The director of course was surprised since they were 'not showing anything that could have been shocking people.'

I mean, who would be shocked at seeing this?

Did you ever have déjà vu, like as if you've been somewhere before? Eventually, I passed by an exhibit with cross sections of a human being preserved in a gelatinous resin. It really made me feel like I was back at that Vietnamese sandwich place with all the cuts of meat and crunchy ears fanned out on the counter. The only thing missing was the julienned carrots.

To give credit to the Banh Mi being one of the tastiest sandwiches on this planet earth, even after the exhibit I couldn't resist the urge to finish my leftover sandwich.

Really, I couldn't understand why the French leaving the exhibit were freaking out at the site of me eating that sandwich. I mean, haven't they had a Banh Mi before???

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  1. leave it up to you to witness Sliced Cross-Section Man and think of julienned carrots. i saw this exhibit in Boston, it was soo soo wrong.

    "Bleeding gums and scratched up roof of mouth..." is so dead on. Don't forget:

    "5000 bits of baguette crumbs all over your face and clothes. Check."

  2. You missed a trick here.
    - CHECK
    - CHECK
    - CHECK
    - CHECK
    - CHECK
    - CHECK
    People watching me eat my Banh Mi on exiting - PRICELESS


  3. In any event, now I feel like getting a sandwich! Unfortunatelly no Vietnamese sandwich shop in Lux ;o)