When broken down to its components, phở is fairly simple. The Vietnamese soup consists of a flavorful, aromatic broth served with meat, herbs, and rice noodles. Though styles of phở differ depending on where in the country you are, this basic formula doesn't vary much.
But the dish is a lot more than the sum of its ingredients. Phở represents Vietnam's multicultural history in a bowl, with France and China influencing the soup's recipe and even its name. Phở also played an important role in the Vietnam War—or the American War, as it's sometimes known in Vietnam. The Viet Kong planned the Tet Offensive—one of the most important military campaigns of the war—on the second floor of a phở shop while U.S. soldiers were slurping noodles downstairs.
These are just a few facts about phở we cover in the latest episode of Food History. Join host Justin Dodd as he explores the history of phở, its impact on the world, and some surprising stories related to the dish.
You can watch the full episode in the video below. To stay up-to-date on more shows from Mental Floss, subscribe to our YouTube channel here.