Pho purists often claim not to have a favorite spot in Ho Chi Minh City, and some refuse to eat pho there at all. These types delight in telling you that real pho only exists in Hanoi, or, worse, that the genuine article has vanished entirely, like the Javan tiger.
To those in that camp, every deviation from the Northern idea is an affront to good taste. The fresh herbs Saigonese tear into their bowls are stupid, and don’t get them started on the broth. Too much cinnamon. Too much sugar. Too many onions. Too much fat.
These poor bastards view themselves as starving in some sort of dry Platonic cave, watching shadow noodles devoured before a fire that burns behind them. How sad that they either cannot or will not recognize the hot, sexy swamp bubbling all around them — the throbbing anarchy in which the century-long evolution of pho continues in earnest.
It’s got everything: delicious pho, a rant against the whole idea of authenticity, love of evolved order, a Plato reference, and an implied rant against again so-called cultural appropriation. It’s amazing.