flavors and textures
spicy hot, tangy sweet, crunch
banh mi on my mind
John Thorne was a foodies before there were foodies.
I guess there always were foodies but there were gastronomes,
As the online dictionary says, one with a serious interest in gastronomy or more simply, a lover of good food.
Mr. Thorne was writing a food blog before there were blogs.
His NEWSLETTER, Simple Cooking, was available by subscription and MAILED out quarterly.
I first heard about Mr. Thorne from reading Jim Harrison.
Harrison wrote in his essay, Consciousness Dining (Smart Magazine, 1989), “But for day-in day-out innovative brilliance and lucid prose, Thorne is my favorite.”
That is good enough for me.
I also appreciate, as Mr. Harrison did, when he wrote about Mr. Thorne, “On a long warm flight from New Orleans, He [Thorne] imagined that the two pounds of Boudin in his suitcase were spoiling, so ate all on his arrival.”
Mr. Harrison calls that ‘timeless wisdom.”
Prompted by Mr. Harrison’s recommendation, I searched out Mr. Thorne’s cookbooks but I never subscribed to his newsletter.
The Thorne Cookbooks, Outlaw Chef, Serious Pig and Pot on the Fire are part of my permanent library, the books that will always move with me no matter how much I downsize and may be on my burn list.
In Pot the Fire, (North Point Press, 2000), I first read about the Vietnamese sandwich, the Banh Mi.
Thorne wrote, “I had no idea what they were. I also had no hesitation in giving on a try. The truth is that I have always had a weakness for anything that comes packaged in a French roll. I bought one, took it out to the car, ate it and went straight back in and bought another. One bite and I knew I was into a good thing.”
Just from reading the essay, a craving burrowed in the soul of my appetite and stayed there.
Nagging at me from time to time.
A gustatory longing.
I could feel the crunch of the crust of the French roll.
I could taste the flavors.
I could feel the spicyness.
Just from reading,
But as I was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the time, it was a longing that looked doomed to be unfilled.
But the thought of Banh Mi stuck in my mind and if I ever had the chance I was going to try them.
Then through a chain of events I ended up living in Gwinnett County, Georgia.
Take everything you think about when you think about the south and stop thinking it.
Moonlight and magnolia are no longer a part of this part of Georgia.
From 1996 (The Atlanta Olympics) to now, the population of Gwinnett County, (named for Button Gwinnett – one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence) has grown from around 200,000 to just under 1,000,000.
9 out of 10 people in Gwinnett are not from Georgia.
1 out of 4 people in Gwinnett are foreign born.
There is been a lot of impact due to this and nothing is more evident then in the restaurants.
You can get anything and I mean anything you might want to eat.
And I can get Banh Mi.
There are at least 5 Vietnamese restaurants within 5 miles of where I live.
I feel the crunch of the crust of the French roll.
I taste the flavors.
I experience the spiciness.
I can tell you that Mr. Thorne was right.
He was on to something good.