We took our seats at a little café renowned for its pho, although my understanding is that practically every corner café has a pho just as good. Out came the bowls of broth, the piles of green leaves and veg, red chillies and a wedge of lime.
We stuffed them into the steaming bowl; a broth of stock, onions, star anise, cloves, cardamom, coriander seeds and who knows what else.
We sipped and agreed with our guide that it was lovely, fresh and comforting. But we were also embarrassed. And lying. It was good, but a little bland.
Over the course of the next week, we sipped more phos as we travelled across the country. But none seemed as good as the ones at Pho on Great Titchfield Street, back in London. How dreadful it is, how shocking, when a bastardised version of a dish gets more favour than its original. It’s a classic tale, a wrestle between immigrants, available ingredients and the palates of the host nation.
I still feel guilty that I prefer the pho at Pho. But I’m just an ignorant cultural appropriator. And that makes it easier reverting to the incorrect pronunciation – although I still hold that you do not pronounce the “d” in Tussauds.