One of the greater New Orleans area’s best-kept secrets is the cheap, abundant and delicious Vietnamese food on the Westbank. Apparently the glories of the Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich are being discovered by the rest of the country. Last month, I was on my way to NYC for a winter vacation, and in the airport I picked up some food magazines for the flight. It was all about meatballs in Bon Appetit, and one of the recipes was for a Pork Meatball Banh Mi sandwich. Then, when I got to New York, every sandwich board boasted a Banh Mi lunch special. I ate a very good one at Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches, but it certainly wasn’t any better than the ones we have here at home. And here we call it the Vietnamese PoBoy–one of my favorite, local, cultural intersections. So there! We liked them before they were trendy.
So, a little shopping and then lunch. Hong Kong Market, in Gretna, is a great place to stock up on incredibly cheap green tea and asian spices. My husband bought his favorite cleaver there, which he uses for pretty much every kitchen task. So does this guy. Their produce is also extremely inexpensive; and they carry all sorts of obscure fruits and vegetables, like daikon and bitter melon. At the end of shopping, stop by their prepared foods section and order a ($2!) Vietnamese PoBoy for lunch .
Providing you don’t have anything that is too perishable–although this freezing weather will surely slow the spoiling process–head over to the AMC Westbank Palace and finally see Avatar in 3D; you know you want to. After the all the hooplah about cigarette smoking, I was expecting Sigourney Weaver to reach out into 3D land and try to put a butt out in our collective retinas, but alas, no. She smokes…
The husband and I literally ooed and awed at the splendor of Pandora. The message is heavy-handed, but a good one, basically two parts Dances with Wolves, one part NeverEnding Story, with a dash of Apocalypse Now. For a moment, while watching, I thought about race, and how the Na’Vi are played by African-American actors, and then I started thinking about The Princess and the Frog, and I thought about how if I were still a Film Theory student I would write a paper called “Kiss Me, Kiss Me: Race and Transmogrification in the 21st Century Fantasy Worlds of Disney and James Cameron.” How I didn’t parlay that training into an important career, I still don’t understand…Oh, and while you’re there get an Egg Nog Daiquiri, one of my favorite things about holiday season in New Orleans. This is probably one of the last ones you’ll find until next year.
After that three hour adventure, it’s time for more food. The Hong Kong Market PoBoy was really just an appetizer for the meal you’re about to have at Pho Tau Bay. Oh, how the Eastbank misses the Mid-City Pho Tau Bay, a minor Katrina casualty, but one, nonetheless. A big steaming bowl of rare beef Pho is the perfect dinner on a cold night like tonight.