What’s Up With the Vietnam War Allusions When Talking About Vietnamese Sandwiches?


What is it about banh mi or banh mi-like sandwiches that moves people to make tasteless allusions to the Vietnam War? Today, Midtown Lunch takes a look at Cer Te’s “The Fall of Saigon,” a vaguely banh mi-ish concoction with buffalo chicken, julienned carrots, and cucumbers. As one ML commenter quipped, it might as well be called “the ‘Bomb Me’ sandwich.”

Cer Te’s choice of name may as well have been inspired by the Hanco’s vs. Henry’s spat in Park Slope, which led the Brooklyn Paper to write a story headlined “New Front in Vietnam War Opens at Park Slope Sandwich Joints.”

The article dubbed Sixth Avenue the “de-sandwiched zone,” and mused that the rivalry threatened “to turn the beloved banh mi into a painful reminder of everything that has ever gone wrong in Indochina.” Because there’s nothing like a $6 sandwich to remind one of the brutal deaths of millions of people and the senseless destruction of an entire country.

But hey, why should the Vietnamese have all the fun here? After all, New York is teeming with food made by immigrants from countries with histories rife with wars, genocide, and starvation. Chefs and restaurateurs, think of the potential you have to summon human suffering in a mere sandwich, dumpling, or order of schnitzel. Because if there’s anything that tastes better than glib allusions to catastrophe, we have yet to find it.

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