Search for the Vietnamese Siesta

Location: Bun Mee (Market Street Location) 

Sandwich: Grilled Lemongrass Pork Sandwich

I was getting my hair cut by a barber from Vietnam. He said his clientele are mostly the fifty hour work week types, typical for the financial district, and that he thinks it is wild that the people he cuts are always working so long into the night. He told me that back in Vietnam many people from his home town would take a rest period during the middle of the day and eat food or relax before going back to work for a few hours in the early evening. He attributed this practice to a strong cultural influence by the French and the Spanish during the period of colonization of Vietnam. While the French part checked out, google failed to show a siesta as typical practice in Vietnam, but I took his word for it.

Fate would have it that a day later I would stroll past Bun Mee, a Vietnamese sandwich shop, on my walk to BART. I had finished up a day of teaching and was getting ready to coach a practice in a few hours. With this unusual split in my work day, conditions were perfect. I would get to combine my siesta, the second greatest invention, with a delicious sandwich, the first greatest invention. Now, I will say this was not a typical siesta, spent at home lounging without pants. However, the spirit of the siesta was indeed achieved with a quiet restaurant at 4 pm, a book to read, and a comfort food that hit the spot.

For those who have never had a bánh mì, I’m so sorry. For those who have, you are probably scoffing at the hip choice of sandwich spot for this bánh mì. “A bánh mì over $5 is ridiculous.” “The gentrification of sandwiches?! Where does it stop?” All fair points and valid questions. The true spirit of the sandwich is modest and delicious. Take a day old baguette (the bread should be a wee crusty), load it with marinated meat, carrots and radishes, cucumbers, cilantro, and some jalepeños. I ordered the lemongrass pork as I was tempted by the garlic mayo (I’m a slut for garlic mayo). It looked like a ton of carrots and daikon when it came out, but I had no complaints once I started eating. They were delicious.

I made it half way through the sandwich, picked a sesame seed from between my teeth and paused, trying as hard as I could to make this siesta as relaxing as possible. While the sandwich was delicious and comforting, this is not a meal for relaxation. Spicy jalepeños, a bottle of sriracha at every table, and a sandwich made to move. This is not the spirit of the siesta. Regardless, my bánh mì was delicious and my belly satisfied.

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