Pho is probably the most iconic Vietnamese dish, and has steadily grown in demand in the last decade to the point that it is catching up to ramen as American foodies’ favorite Asian noodle dish. This week, Lynda and Iris interview Andrea Nguyen, author of The Pho Cookbook, on the fascinating history behind the dish and why it became so popular in the West.
Both Lynda and Iris are nerds and love to read, so we were so excited to have an author we love on the show. For those who aren’t familiar with Andrea, she’s a writer, teacher, and consultant, and one of the leading voices in current media on Vietnamese cuisine. She has written a number of acclaimed cookbooks, including Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Asian Dumplings, and The Banh Mi Handbook. Her writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Cooking Light, Saveur, Rodale’s Organic Life, as well as one of our favorites, Lucky Peach. Andrea's based in Cali so Lynda was in the Heritage Radio studio all by herself and Iris makes fun of her (womp womp).
First, Iris asks Andrea about the origins of pho, her own cultural roots, as well as the different variations of pho, both in Vietnam and the more modern international adaptations. Phorritos, phumplings, anyone?
9:15 "It started out as a very humble thing and it's always had this characteristic of being a food for everybody in Vietnam. Regardless of what economic or social background, everyone ends up sharing pho at a little pho joint. It's not a food of white table cloths per se, so it's always had a very democratic aspect to it, which is why I think it's really cool that nowadays so many people are interested in eating pho all over the world, and in America, and trying their hand in making it." - Andrea Nguyen on the history of pho.
In the second half of the episode, Lynda asks Andrea about how pho is consumed in Vietnam and how it continues to evolve there. They also talk about the popularity of pho. How did this humble noodle dish make it to the US and beyond? According to the last 2016 Google food trends report, the fame of pho has increased every year for the past decade, with total searches over the past three years rising 11% on a year-over-year basis. Listen to the episode to learn Andrea's and Lynda's thoughts on why people love pho so much.
Andrea is truly a wealth of knowledge and a great speaker, so we hope you love this interview as much as we did. And as a bonus for our listeners, Andrea shared her Quick Chicken Pho recipe from her new cookbook with you! It takes less than 45 minutes and is absolutely delicious. Also, be sure to grab a copy of The Pho Cookbook anywhere books are sold.