Is it ridiculous to write about the same street-treat twice on one trip? Not when it’s a dish as delicious as binh my pate. After a morning of Hanoi culture at the Temple of Literature and the Fine Arts Museum, Bordeaux and I began to feel hungry for lunch. Walking down a wide avenue lined with painter’s shops, we finally spotted what we were looking for: a glass case filled with a pyramid of golden baguettes.
As we approached the counter, we were greeted cheerfully by the sandwich lady, a slightly odd woman in silk pajamas. She pointed to the different ingredients in her case. We wanted baguettes? Yet. Pate? Yes. Cilantro, chili, and cucumber? Yes, yes, yes. Egg? Bordeaux and I looked at each other. Egg? No, no egg.
She didn’t understand us. She gave us everything. She set the baguettes out on plastic plates, and quickly fried up the egg along with little blocks of fatty pate. She came and dropped a baguette in front of each of us, returning first with the soft over-easy egg and the sizzling pate, and then with a plate of sliced cucumbers. We decided to try it. We sliced the crusty bread, spread the pate, and slipped in the fried eggs. She came back with a big handful cilantro, which she sprinkled over our sandwiches like confetti. We garnished them, spiced them. The end result was amazing. They were warm, crunchy, greasy, salty, spicy, fresh, and crisp- the perfect combination of flavors in a deceptively simple sandwich. We were lucky that she didn’t understand out order.