The Unsettling Reason Phở Was Once Sold In Secret In Vietnam

Your humble Editor Knew the reason … Cheers 🍻

Nothing is more comforting than a piping of hot soup on a cold winter day, and that is exactly what the Vietnamese noodle dish, phở, has to offer. The popular cuisine’s origin dates back to the 1880s, and since then, it has soared in both accessibility and popularity around the globe (via Pho Fever). More recently, restaurateurs and chefs have started to get crafty with variations on this traditional meal — including adding vegan ingredients and even lobster to their steaming bowls of rice noodles. There is even one restaurant, Dong Thap Noodles in Seattle, that sells its customers one giant bowl of phở for $77 (via Narcity).

It’s safe to say there’s an abundance of phở to go around. Although it might not be difficult to find this dish at a standard Vietnamese restaurant, there was a period of time when phở had to be sold in secret — here’s why.

Pho’s classic noodles were banned for a period of time

The original ingredients of phở haven’t always been super glitzy. In fact, according to Bliss Saigon, phở’s ingredients started off very basic — only composed of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. Over time, people began adding new ingredients and animal parts as a result of the French coming to Vietnam.

During the 1950s, one of these very essential ingredients put the ability to make phở at risk. According to Mental Floss, this was when the Communist Party occupied the country and enforced a rule that stated that all noodles must be made with potato or wheat flour, instead of the dish’s traditional rice noodles. These noodles, also known as Banh Pho, are an important part of the soup because of their long and stringy texture (via Viet World Kitchen). Therefore, when this law was enacted, some vendors still served their customers the classic recipe — they simply gave them a special set of instructions on how to order them to avoid getting into trouble with the authorities. Thankfully, phở enthusiasts can order a bowl of their favorite noodles without this worry today.

Written by Taylor Huang for the Daily Meal

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