I definitely want to create a bucket list of things to do before I depart this earth. More importantly, a sub-bucket list of things to EAT before I expire. Here's one of those items that I'm so thankful I got to eat, this side of the dirt!
A few years ago one of my very good friends shared some news on Facebook. The news was about a write-up of her parents' market. Her mom's banh mi sandwich had basically become famous, earning rankings on lists like "50 things to eat before you die" and even getting a mention by the late great Anthony Bourdain in his "Parts Unknown" segment.
“One of the first items on my list, after getting settled into the job and re-acquainting myself with the city, was to get my butt over to InterAsian Market and Deli and see my friend and wrap my mouth around the sandwich."
From that moment, I of course wanted to be one of the fortunate ones to try my friend's mom's sandwich and it would take me over two years to do so.
In August of 2019, after what seemed like an endless series of unfortunate events, I got a great job doing work that I love, in Nashville, a city that has absolutely stolen my heart. One of the first items on my list, after getting settled into the job and re-acquainting myself with the city, was to get my butt over to InterAsian Market and Deli and see my friend and wrap my mouth around the sandwich.
My friend, Somy, knows I'm plant-based and told me that her mom offered a vegetarian version of her famous banh mi sandwich, which is traditionally made with pork belly. Somy also mentioned that her own daughter, really liked the tofu version of the sandwich. So I was super enthusiastic about trying it, knowing in advance that I would like.
I got the sandwich early into our visit and then we stood around and talked for about an hour, catching up. Somy would stop periodically to check out a customer and I would then go wander the aisles, checking out all the exotic merchandise. She told me she wanted me to eat it so she'd know how I liked it, and I told her I would. I couldn't WAIT to eat that sandwich but I also wanted to talk to her and with only an hour lunch, I put off eating the sandwich until later.
As soon as I got in my car I tore the wrapper off the sandwich and tore into it. It was nothing like I imagined and everything I imagined! The bread was perfectly crusty and chewy and the tofu was mildly seasoned. The vegetable and mango combination are the absolute star of this version of the sandwich, as they should be (in my humble opinion). I bit into the sandwich and my taste buds were hit with all sorts of cool, crunchy, spicy and sweet textures all at once. And then a LOT of heat! But boy was it good. I couldn't quite place the sweet so I had to go back to the website to see what the sandwich was made of once I got back to my desk. Mango!! That was a pleasant surprise to me because I am not a mango fan. I'm just not (actually, I struggle with all fruits but that's a whole 'nother blog post). But the mango was absolutely perfect and helped temper the heat from the jalapeno. Cucumber and cilantro married well to completely round out the sandwich. I'd FINALLY gotten to eat the InterAsian banh mi sandwich and it was THAT good.
As I'm typing this, I'm thinking about how I can't wait to go back and get another vegetarian banh mi sandwich. And visit my dear lifelong friend, Somy. Our friendship was cemented in food a long time ago and love of good, whole foods, is one of the many things that continues to sustain our friendship. Thank you, Somy, and InterAsian Market & Deli for enabling me to strike one thing off my foodie bucket list!