In a pickle

I found it: a bad banh mi sandwich. All it takes is 1 part not caring, 1 part overcharging, and 2 parts utter contempt for the customer and you’ve got yourself a bad version of one of the best sandwiches in the world.

Banh mi is the first sandwich that made me realize that competing elements in a sandwich makes a sandwich good. Crunchy bread, soft pate, spicy jalapeño, cooling cucumber, sweet seasoned meat, sour and funky pickle, fresh cilantro and some kind of Vietnamese ham/brawn/loaf. These are the basic elements of a banh mi sandwich. And what happens if you leave some of them out is that you get an imbalanced, sweet, mess.

I have a local deli I usually buy my banh mi sandwiches from. I’m not supposed to eat white bread as much anymore but I still try to get one sandwich a week from a local deli. I normally go the deli inside this local place called Hong Kong Supermarket. There they have 11 different options you can ask for on your sandwich. I recommend the Xa Xiu because the pork is made in house and it’s meltingly tender. They also have roasted whole duck for sale as well and maybe one day I’ll get one of those and put some in a banh mi, I bet it’s incredible.

Anyway, this place does banh mi right. The sandwich is loaded up with everything you want and not a thing is missing, ever. They have some pre-mades (classic pork, pulled pork, chicken, etc.) that you can grab and go for $5 a piece or you can spend a whole extra dollar and have them make you the Xa Xiu, which they will chop up right there and heat up for you.

But the one major key to the whole sandwich, the thing that takes it to “Walking on Sunshine” levels ,are the pickles. They are perfect every time and plenty of them.

The pickle for me is one of the most important parts of the banh mi. I’ve eaten in places where they just chop up some carrots and throw them on there but I prefer Do Chua. I’m not sure if its authentic but that recipe I just linked to is my favorite. It has just the right level of funk from the fermenting daikon and then sweetness and sour from the brine that I can eat them straight from the jar (just don’t tell my doctor).

The failure sandwich didn’t have pickle. It didn’t have ham. It didn’t have jalapeño. It had a lot of mayo. It had one slice of cucumber. It had some carrots which I think had a vaguely sweet taste, so maybe they were cured? It had some very weedy cilantro. And it cost $13.

Will not buy from there again.

And if you make a banh mi sandwich yourself, or if you want to try to make one, make absolutely sure you get some good pickle in there. And lots of it!

I guess that’s it for today. Lol. “Hey make sure you add pickle to your banh mi or it WILL suck”. I would talk about something Arsenal-related but there’s nothing to talk about. I saw some speculation about one of our players and an injury but meh, I’m not worried about it.

I think a few places have started doing some stuff on Arteta’s first 100 matches and that’s cool but I see nothing I can add to that discussion, plus I think this might be an Arteta-free zone for a while. After a lot of the debate about Ozil (at the end of the Wenger era) I decided not to write about him anymore because the discussion was no longer a discussion, just entrenched people yelling at each other. A few months later I did the same with Xhaka. Since then, this place has been something of a sanctuary from that stuff.

But I see that the Ozil stuff has crept back in and frankly, I’m not a fan. But since the comments section are more your section than mine and you all seem to be largely respectful of each other, I’m going to hope that it just passes. And by passes, I mean more like a soft shit and not like a kidney stone.

And now I think I’ll do it again with Arteta. The “debate” has just become boring and If something changes and there’s something new to talk about, I might break my silence but it’s going to have to be something major for me to be interested at this point.

Plenty of other Arsenal-related things to write about. Maybe. I don’t know.

You know what I would like to know? Every player’s favorite sandwich.



      1. His cafe is about a mile north of the Emirates next time you’re over here. A really enthusiastic, genuine fella. You’d get along very well.

        1. I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to England.

          I’m fairly anti leisure travel given the environmental impact and if I am going to make an exception it will probably be to go to Japan.

          That said, I’m jealous and I hope you or others in that area get to eat at his shoppe often (unless he’s a spud).

  1. Apparently Arteta’s first 100 games bolstered a higher winning % than any other Arsenal managers and that’s super cool.
    Considering games against Molde, Dundalk, and Austria Vienna were included, we might as well celebrate Kane’s tremendous goal scoring prowess vs San Marino too.

  2. The pickle is a vital part of many sandwiches for me. I personally love pickles and jalapenos in a tuna salad sandwich, for instance.

    I think I’ve weighed in here before on my love of the Reuben. Corned beef is fine, but a Pastrami Reuben is next level. The peppery flavor of the Pastrami, with sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese. Always must be on amazing Re bread, fried to a browned perfection. In this version, I would include a sweet pickle, to offset the umami and sourness of the kraut. A dill pickle would be too much sour.

    I will sometimes opt for a variation. Add coleslaw! In this version, I can even opt out of the sauerkraut (God forbid we have too much cabbage in a sandwich). This version calls for a dill pickle, to offset the sweetness of the slaw.

    Per MATTB, this satisfies “hot, cold, sweet, sour, crunchy, soft”

    I know what I’m having for lunch, btw.

  3. Dude it’s fine for me if you’d prefer us to drop any subject, you have to read this stuff as well, after all.

    I think Ozil’s a very interesting character and the story of what happened to him is a bit of a microcosm of a lot of things that have been going on at the club recently. I appreciate Shard’s take.

    Saturday will obviously be a huge test. I’m not expecting us to pass it to be honest, we’re not quite there yet, and there may rightly be some backlash and a reassessment if we lose too easily.

    I’m jealous that there are no Vietnamese sandwich places I know of in North London, I want to try this thing.

    1. It’s fine to talk about Ozil, debate Xhaka, etc. I just skim the comments these days. Pretty easy to tell when someone’s getting into a little bit more personal territory or if someone makes a racist comment because you all call them out!

  4. Pickles are made for sandwiches. A relative newcomer to the UK. Up to 2000 the only place you would see them was in a Chip Shop in a big jar full of vinegar. Usually alongside pickled eggs.

    The US is always a long way ahead of the UK in food. Just look at the average belly size (we’re catching you up!). I recall my amazement at seeing a pickle squirting machine at a baseball game years ago. I had to squirt it on everything that day for the novelty.

  5. Sure, though it doesn’t seem like Ozil is ripping up any threes in Galatasaray either. I think we’ve had 3 players of fantastic technical abilities but cut from a different cloth personally than Bergkamp, Henry and Vieira etc which may explain why they never reached those heights?

    I think Ozil is in that category with Reyes and Ahrshavin. They were fantastically gifted players that could have been legends but faded out after fantastic starts. Was it too physical league, lost their lust for football or mentally burnt out?

    In Ozils case I think it maybe fair to assume he’s burnt out. Either that or he’s a genuine c..t🤔.

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