Ultimate Fusion Food
High Marks for Flavor, Nutrition
Pho is the ultimate Fusion food. It got started when the Vietnamese were trying to find a use for the leftover Beef after the cattle were slaughtered to make steaks for the French colonial rulers. Pho became a national dish, all in less than a century, and eventually came to be served in more than a hundred varieties.
Pho wins high marks for flavor and also for nutritional quality and balance. This comes at a time when the World Obesity Report shows citizens of the United States scoring very badly in terms of obesity, while a number of Asian counties are doing much better.
Recently I decided to try Pho with Sliced Beef, perhaps the most simple and classic version of this soup, to evaluate it in terms of both flavor and nutrition.
Flavor was excellent, with a strong Beef aroma and taste. Texture was crunchy, from the large volume of Bean Sprouts, largely cooked at the table in the hot soup. Most of the Beef flavor came from the very concentrated Beef Soup, rather than from solid meat pieces. But there were about 2 – 3 ounces per person of high-quality, thinly sliced, very tender Beef Filet slices. Soup, Bean Sprouts and
Fine Rice Noodle Vermicelli each made up bit less than a third of the volume of the soup. There were in addition, a few fresh herbs added, plus a few slices of fresh Hot Green Chili Peppers, a quarter Lime. Everyone added aromatics to taste: Sri Racha sauce (another Fusion element), Black Pepper (still another Fusion note?), Vinegar, pickled Garlic, Red Chili Peppers and so on.
Compare this meat with a Filet Mignon, abut 7 to 8 ounces of Beef with a generous marbling of fat (the Pho meat and broth has virtually no fat). Add some grilled Vegetables and a serving of Rice or Potatoes, and you will see a big contrast. With a glass or two of Red Wine, the French meal is approaching 1,200 to 2,000 calories. The Vietnamese Pho lunch is about half the calorie count with much fewer in the fat area.
Actually the French meal is relatively healthy. Many American sit-down restaurants are featuring meals incorporating Meat, Buns, plus Potatoes or Pasta and sauces that can easily provide 3,000 or more calories at one setting. No one, even the most physically active, can consume 3,000 calorie meals with any frequently and not see the needle on the scale move in the wrong direction. Which brings us back to the World Obesity study, of which more soon in another post.