Take a piece of freshly baked baguette (still warm, or it’s half price), stuff it with mint, cilantro, pâté, barbecued pork, cilantro, daikon, and jalapeños, and you’re in banh mi territory. This adaptive, post-colonial Vietnamese staple is humble to the point of invisibility, but it’s a major reason that Vietnamese food is so affordable, accessible, and delicious on a day-to-day basis.

The Los Angeles Times has done fans and novices alike a big favor by penning a sprawling ode to the sandwich, including a recipe, a cooking video, and a breakdown of the best banh mi shops in Southern California. It seems like overkill, unless you’ve ever had a mind-blowing banh mi, in which case you have to wonder: When’s the book coming out?

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