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When is a Bowl of Pho Not Pho?

On this week's episode of Proof, the podcast from America's Test Kitchen, a story of what happens when a mother changes a treasured family recipe.
By Published May 12, 2022

I once traveled to the American South and stopped for lunch in a lovely college town in Mississippi. There was a restaurant and the clientele was clearly marketed to raucous college students.

The restaurant's menu reflected its intended audience. There was one pizza with nacho toppings—in fact, it was more nacho than pizza. It was topped with ground beef, pico de gallo, jalapeno slices, sour cream, tortilla chips, and nacho cheese sauce, all served on a baked pizza dough.

It had me thinking: Can this legally be designated as pizza? Would the Italian government get wind of this and impose trade sanctions?

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It might seem like a trite example, but this is happening to food as it crosses borders and evolves over time. At what point does a beloved dish needs to lose its name and be called something else entirely?

This week on Proof, reporter Anh Gray brings us a fascinating story about her family. It's about the national dish of her homeland, Vietnam: the noodle soup known as pho. What happens when a treasured family recipe passed down for generations needs to be changed? It's not an easy answer.

Listen to this episode, "The Pho Must Go On," on your favorite podcast players via this link.

Photo: Die Griechen, Unsplash