Interesting facts about the Vietnamese cakes’ names

1. “Bánh bò”

In Vietnamese, “bò,” as a noun, means “a cow”, and “to crawl” as a verb.

The cake does not have any legs nor is its shape even remotely close to a cow, so why is it still called “bánh bò?” Some people think that it’s called “bánh bò” because its shape looks like a cow’s…breast. However, most people agree with the second explanation, which is that, when keeping the powder with the ferment, it will rise and “crawl” up the dish.

“Bánh bò” originally came from Southern China and has become very popular in Vietnam today. However, “bánh bò” from China does not contain coconut, which is one of the most essential ingredients in Vietnam’s Banh bo.

2. “Bánh bông lan” (sponge cake)

Most of us are familiar with sponge cakes, which originally came from France. That cake is usually made with vanilla flavor, which is extracted from a kind of orchid (“phong lan” in Vietnamese), hence the Vietnamese name (“bông lan,” meaning orchid flower).

But, still, why is it called “bông lan” instead of “hoa lan” (“bông” and “hoa” both mean flower, but “hoa” is a more commonly used word)? Some say the reason is because the cake was first brought by the French to the Southern Vietnam, where people more commonly say “bông” rather than “hoa.”

3. “Bánh xèo”

“Bánh xèo” is a specialty of the South. The yellow, stunning cake is stuffed with shrimp, meats, and vegetables. “Bánh xèo” is eaten with raw vegetables and rice paper that is dipped in sweet fish sauce; it has become one of the South’s most favorite foods. The name was simply extracted from the recipe: it is the sound you get when you pour the cake liquid in the frying pan.

4. “Bánh gật gù” (nodding cake)

This cake is the specialty of Quảng Ninh. It is made from rice powder, like phở, but longer and is rolled into a long cake. It is eaten with a mixture of sauce made from chicken grease and fried onions. When holding the cake with your hands, it keeps on nodding (because of its elasticity), so people call it “Bánh gật gù” (“gật gù,” meaning “to nod”).

5. “Bánh răng bừa” (Harrow teeth cake)

More commonly known by the name “Bánh tẻ” (rice cake without filling), the name “Bánh răng bừa” is only used by residents of Thanh Hóa because it looks like the teeth of a harrow used in the rice fields.

6. “Bánh cam” (orange cake):

Its color and shape looks like an orange.

As you can see, there is a lot to discover when it comes to Vietnamese’s traditional foods. Try and enrich your knowledge by finding more interesting facts about other foods’ names.

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