I rarely write about food here, but eating and cooking are two of my favorite things. Pho, Vietnamese rice noodle soup, is a pleasure I discovered more than a decade ago, when I went gluten-free for a time and struggled to eat anything anywhere. I’ve always loved noodles and it was a perfect match.
I’ve eaten it regularly ever since and it’s staple here in Seattle with dozens of places that specialize in it (the soup and where I’ve eaten it are even mentioned in the acknowledgements of Confessions Of A Public Speaker).
What I don’t like about people who write about food is pretense. The pretense that there’s a wrong way to eat. I have two rules about eating:
- It is your mouth – put in it what you like, not what an expert (who has their own maw to fill) says
- It is your money – you paid for it, eat it how you like
Of course you should experiment with different foods and different ways to eat things, and experts can help offer good experiments to try first, but only to discover what you enjoy. Everyone’s palate and tastes are different. Rules for food are for fools.
And now, Pho.
Pho is traditionally served with many ingredients for you to use as you please: bean sprouts, basil, lime, jalapeño, and at least two sauces, a hot Srirachia sauce and a sweet and salty Hoisin sauce. It’s quite a taste chemistry set and you’ll see many people who have very specific cauldronesque recipes for their pho.
I’m a simpleton: I taste the broth first, then put just about everything in (except basil which is rarely worth the effort), a shot of hot sauce, a shot of Hoisin, and I’m off and running. Maybe less sauce if I think the broth is great, maybe more if it’s not so impressive. I use the chopsticks for noodles, and sometimes drink the some of the broth at the end.
It’s no surprise all the experts have their laws, rules and traditions to which i say hooey. Traditions are great to try at least once, but you should always remember every tradition we have was invented by someone who tried something different than what had been done before:
- How to eat Pho like you know what you’re doing
- Food Pho Pas: 23 things you’re doing wrong when eating Asian food
- How to order and eat Pho like a pro
- Lovingpho – an entire blog about making, eating and running a pho restaurant
My question for you is: how do you eat your Pho? Leave a comment.