If you ask me, the world of Vietnamese soups and broths is a world well worth spending time in. And none is better known, or more essential, to Vietnamese culture than pho, a seductive blend of aromatic broth, bright herbs, and bold chile slices to make things interesting. And though the broth is served hot, it’s flavor profile makes it the kind of thing you can still enjoy in warm months, making it the ultimate year-round lunch.
A recent issue of Lucky Peach magazine shares a history of the dish, excerpted from Andrea Nguyen’s The Pho Cookbook, coming in 2017 from Ten Speed Press. It’s a fascinating cross-cultural, economic, and political story, which results in something very, very, very delicious.
The history begins with the new phenomenon of eating beef. The Vietnamese used cattle as work animals, but the French occupiers, with their taste for steak, begin to slaughter the cows, and the Vietnamese were now left with bones, scraps, and leftovers.
And it just gets better from there. Check it out at Lucky Peach: The History of Pho