Alan and I had to go to Kitchener yesterday to apply for my passport. After too much time in the - which circle of hell is it with all the bureaucrats and forms? - we were in need of sustenance. And, really, can anything pick you up like a steaming bowl of pho?
I did a bit of research and here's what I found, courtesy of Viet World Kitchen.
Probably the best-known Vietnamese dish, at least in North America, pho (rhymes with "duh") has a mostly undocumented history. The most we know is that it's nearly 100-years old, a blend of French and Chinese cooking traditions.
Some people think that the name is a variation on the French "feu" as in the classic pot-au-feu, which French colonialists introduced to Vietnam. So one theory for the invention of pho is that cooks in Nam Dinh City satisfied both Vietnamese and French residents by using local ingredients like rice noodles and adding beef for a bit of French flair.
Whatever its origins, this soup, with its mildly-flavoured beef or chicken broth, rice noodles and other extras is just the thing on one of those days.
It will warm you up on a cold day and you can eat it in all it's mild-tasting wonder, or spice up with hot chilies and herbs.
If you haven't tried pho yet, wander in to the next restaurant you see. But start with the small bowl. The portions in every one we've tried have been huge.