I make no effort to say menu items I can’t pronounce; I simply don’t enjoy embarrassing myself. Today I went to GTA  for a late lunch and in studying the menu, the word “brisket” caught my eye. It was in the context of a “Brisket Bành Mì” sandwich, and for obvious reasons, it was the “Bành Mì” part I didn’t feel confident pronouncing. Instead, I just ordered a quote brisket sandwich. I had no clue what “Bành Mì” meant, so I ate the sandwich under the impression I was eating a brisket sandwich. This was true to an extent. It was made on a baguette, and there was a lot of brisket on it, along with cilantro, carrots, a mayonnaisey  sauce, and onions. Oh, plus chili peppers. These chili peppers didn’t make me suspicious; I thought that GTA included them to give an interesting twist to a traditional sandwich. I also didn’t like them. They didn’t pair well with the brisket. Brisket has a comforting, warm character to it, while chili peppers, spicy and sharp, have nothing comforting about them. I felt that the chili peppers took the sandwich in an uncomfortable direction. I ordered a brisket sandwich, but felt like I had been given something else.
I later learned that Bành Mì basically means bread in Vietnamese, and has become associated with a certain type of Vietnamese sandwich. Served specifically on a baguette, Bành Mì were simply called “French Sandwiches” prior to 1954, when the French left Vietnam. Gradually, the the Vietnamese began adding more quote unquote asian ingredients to these sandwiches like spices, herbs, and cilantro. I wish I had known this information before I ate the sandwich. I would have eaten it with a different mindset. Knowing that I was eating an asian sandwich would have made me feel different about the chili peppers. I can’t change how I perceived the sandwich tasted, however. In the moment, eating the sandwich, the chili peppers annoyed me. Only trying the sandwich again, with a new perspective, will change my opinion. For now, I’ll just work on my sandwich knowledge to avoid confusion like this again.
1. Gjelina Take Away.
2. Not a word.