United States

A Tale of Two Sandwiches

In the 1970s a large population of Vietnamese refugees, fleeing the war, relocated to southern Louisiana. There were a lot of parallels between the home they left behind and their new one. Many Vietnamese immigrants found work in the fishing and shrimping industries similar to what they had done before, they joined the many Catholic churches around New Orleans, and like other New Orleanians they made amazing food—especially sandwiches. Both the bánh mì sandwich and the po’ boy were originally conceived as quick, easy meals for hardworking people with little money—in fact, this is where the po’ boy gets its name. Over time, the two delicious meals began to merge and now “Vietnamese Po’ Boy” variations are popping up all over the city: pickled veggies added to a fried shrimp po’ boy; lettuce, mayo and pickles on Vietnamese marinated pork. Anything is possible with this new food combination, as the flavors of Saigon and Hanoi get absorbed into the already fascinating food culture of New Orleans.

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