Bánh mì in Louisville (part 14 of an onging series): ValuMarket at WorldFest

I’m way behind — this is from a festival in August! — but to summarize, ValuMarket’s bánh mì is bad and they should feel bad.

Sorry, wanted to get that in on the Facebook summary. Perhaps more discussion is necessary. At the Louisville Worldfest, all manner of cultures show up to show off their food and dancing and music and geegaws. It’s a lovely event, with free entertainment and, if you’re willing to pay, a delightful variety of food to cram into your gaping maw. Two years ago I spent about an hour chilling and drinking coffee with a mellow Ethiopian guy after putting down my hunger with sambusas and some Colombian torta-thingy. I’ve been tempted by the Ethiopian coffee ever since, but it’s been really very hot the last few years and near-boiling coffee isn’t pleasant on a 96-degree day.

Surprisingly, there’s historically not been much bánh mì there (or much of a Vietnamese presence at all). ValuMarket always has an enormous stall, featuring everything from guava pastries to ham croquettes. So this year, with a mission, I knew I had to have their bánh mì.

ValuMarket (5301 Mitscher Avenue, and 5 other locations) is a local grocery chain with I assume some sort of affiliated national (they have house brands of most staples). The Iroquois location has Bosnian and Mexican and Arabic and Asian food aisles, and is the go-to grocery store for culinarily adventurous folks who quail at the disorganization and lack of English-language labels and general unhelpfulness of true ethnic groceries like Phuoc Binh or the Rahim Food Mart. Their Mid-City mall location has great beers and will fill you a growler at pretty reasonable rates. So there’s much to like about Valumarket. It’s also got a deli counter, and both at their deli counter and at their food stalls at various Louisville festivals (Worldfest, Beerfest, and possibly other things ending in ‘fest’), their Cubano is regarded as a splendid example of its type. They do not normally sell bánh mì, but they had them at Worldfest for $7, same as their Cubano (which may seem steep, but that’s festival pricing for you).

I am sorry to say (with regard to a business I generally respect and whose products I enjoy) that their bánh mì is the single worst exemplar of that noble sandwich which I have ever had, and I include some San Diego specimens which might have given me mild food poisoning in that assessment. The fact that it cost twice as much as the perfectly adequate product of Dong Phuong was merely the addition of insult to injury. I will briefly summarize its faults, because they do not bear harping upon. First, while a squishy sub roll is indeed the correct shape, it is not even close to texturally appropriate, either in the snap of the crust or in the lightness of the dough, to a good proper baguette. Second, one may well note that the ingredients of a bành mí gá include shredded chicken and mayonnaise, one cannot create good bánh mì filling by sprinkling cilantro over chicken salad.

So, yeah, ValuMarket. Awesome Cubano. Very nice international goods. Great price on chorizo. But you guys are on notice for your crimes against sandwichcraft.

Mibble Monday: Thuffering thuccotass! (Judges 12–13)

Been out of the loop with work obligations and travel and general lunacy. Trying to click back on track before this Wednesday.

Short snarky summary: Ephraim and Manasseh get into an absurdly pointless fight. The Manassahites make fun of the Ephraimites’ funny accents, and then kill them. A couple ill-described judges later, a kid decides to let his hair grow long.

A real lollapalooza of a slaughter

Sibble Saturday: Weigh your remarks before you speak (Judges 10–11)

Happy New Year! What are your resolutions? This chapter we learn about a guy who regretted his.

Short snarky summary: A few undescribed heroes do their thing, and then the Israelites do their usual sinning and get conquered. Again. A scruffy bastard leads them all in battle, but makes dumb promises.

Jephthah’s mouth is writing checks his knife-hand can’t cash