This isn’t about pho.  Well, indirectly, this entry was inspired by my recent experience with pho.  So the picture above says it all.  A bow of pho.  A plate of herbs.  Sriracha.  Wait.  Pump the brakes.  Back up to the herbs.  You see those 2 wedges of limes?  Those beautiful wedges of limes is what makes the broth sing.  Don’t get me wrong, the broth itself is already sexy.  But those limes?  They make the broth red carpet sexy.

But what I’ve noticed over the last year is that when the price of limes go up, the pho shops EVERYWHERE demote this very special ingredient to lemons.  LEMONS????  I mean, do they think I’m not paying attention here?  I recently went to a Vietnamese pho place and not only did they serve lemons instead of limes, they took away other condiments on another dish.  I mean, don’t take it out on your customers people.  It’s not our fault the limes are more expensive.  It’s not our fault you put the price of a bowl of pho at $5.  But don’t think I’m not watching.

I know some of you out there, you think I’m just being dramatic.  I mean, limes, lemons, they’re both citrus right?  It’s the same, right?  Well, it’s not.  It’s not the same.  The tartness of the lime is what accentuates the broth.  The lemons is like a bad substitute, like baking a cake with Equal.  It’s like telling yourself that the tofu cake you’re eating is really cake.  It’s like a vegan telling me that the tofu chicken I’m eating is chicken.  Well, IT AIN’T.  But that’s what so frustrating about these places.  The limes go up $0.10 a pound and we get lemons.  What are we going to get when the price of chickens go up?  Oh yea, LESS CHICKEN!!!  And what about beef?  Yea, that’s right, LESS BEEF!!!  Now you’re getting the picture.  It’s less of whatever the price is rising.  Or substitute it for something else, that’s kind of similar, but it really isn’t.  Can you imagine going to Panda Express and getting your fix of their Orange Chicken, but instead of using orange [or whatever flavoring substitute they use], they use tangerines?  But they still call it, Orange Chicken?  See, you don’t think you can tell.  But you can.  That’s the beauty of our taste buds as it interacts with our memory.  We remember.  We remember the first time we ate a great burger.  We know what that burger taste like.  You substitute that ground beef with ground turkey, no matter how much the other stuff stay the same, it’s not the same burger.  It’s just different.  And something’s just a little off.