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“I love Banh mi Sai Gon” week underway in HCM City

“I love Banh mi Sai Gon” (I love Saigon bread) programme is taking place in Ho Chi Minh City from March 24 to 31.

"Banh mi" is a popular food in Vietnam (Photo: VNA)

The week-long event is part of the activities to celebrate “banh mi” (popular Vietnamese street food) on the ninth anniversary of its admission into the Oxford English Dictionary.

It is also among a series of activities in the culinary tourism campaign launched by the municipal Department of Tourism.

The department coordinated with musician Nguyen Hai Phong and Brandbeats Music Agency to create a music clip “I love Banh mi Sai Gon”.

An animated image of Vietnam’s “banh mi” (bread) was featured on Google’s homepage on March 24.

Google’s move has contributed to promoting Vietnam's special snack to the world.

The name banh mi /ˈbɑːn miː/ is one of three Vietnamese words in the Oxford English dictionary, together with pho /fə ː/ and ao dai /ˈaʊ ˌdʌɪ/, proving its fame and popularity.

The first baguette in Vietnam dates back 130 years to the time when France colonised the country between the 1880s and 1954. The French usually cut it into small sections to serve with soup, curry or butter.

In 1970, wood-fired ovens were converted into larger brick kilns to bake in bulk, which gave the bread its Vietnamese identity.

From then on Vietnamese chefs began making variations. Instead of putting butter or jam on bread, they layered it with bacon, making it delicious and more convenient.

Banh mi has been developed across Vietnam. The flavours of the modern “banh mi” vary by region in Vietnam. In Hanoi in the north, the fillings are more simple than the “original” found in Ho Chi Minh City in the south, and include high-quality cold cuts. In the central coastal city of Hoi An, the meat used is served warm.

Vietnamese “banh mi” is present in countries where Vietnamese people live because it is easy to make and source ingredients.

It was ranked second in a story run by the Guardian about the World's Best Street Foods.

David Farley, a BBC writer specializing in travel and cuisine, praised “banh mi” as "the best sandwich in the world".

Meanwhile, late chef Anthony Bourdain, one of the most influential culinary experts in the world, complimented banh mi in his “No Reservation” programme on CNN.