Pho, pronounced “fuh”, is Vietnam’s national dish. Steeped in tradition, heritage and everyday life, pho is surprisingly younger than most people think.
The history of pho began near Ha Noi, northern Vietnam, in the late 1880’s, during the time of French occupation. One theory suggests the name “pho” comes from the French’s “pot au feu” (pot of fire), signifying the long hours required to create the rich, nutritious, beef bone broth.
Pho slowly made its way down the length of the country, as northern families travelled with their cherished recipes and introduced pho to the southern Vietnamese. The people of the south added in more spices, herbs, vegetables and garnishes. They were also liberal with the use of fish sauce and bean sauce to flavor their pho, creating a distinctive southern pho taste.
Pho soon became the everyday food for Vietnamese everywhere. Everyone in Vietnam grows up eating their mother’s pho. Pho is the nation’s comfort food. It represents family connection. It is part of each person’s soul and sense of identity. Pho symbolizes motherly love, home, the streets you grew up in. It is warm, humble and comforting – the same characteristics of Vietnamese people. Pho is Vietnamese soul food.