Laos’ cuisine– Along the traveler route, many at home ask just what we have been eating during our Asian conquest. Laos food and cuisine is not quite as diverse or tasty as Thai food, and many meals have a base of rice and noodles.
This is not to say that we don’t enjoy ourselves when eating out though. (When don’t I enjoy eating?) Baguettes are very popular and can be found on a street vendor for nearly every meal or late night snack. These french bread sandwiches, which are miles above Subway in flavor and presentation, are served with khai (eggs) or pate and are often loaded with veggies. Yum-o! No need to make a late night run to the burritos-as-big-as-your-head Mexican stop for an after drinks snake!
Our favorite dining – After some wandering around and several wrong turns, we came across the “real food” in Luang Prabang and have been happily eating there every night. At the end of a very narrow and crowded ally was the needle in the haystack – a delicious and equally cheap place to find a wonderful meal and visit with locals and backpackers alike. Although we had to walk past some interesting pig heads, fried spiders, intestines, brains, dead squirrels, cats, and dogs, and some icky looking green slime, it was worth every foul smell and eyeful of tongues, organs and rodents to arrive at our food stall.
A little explanation– The table is spread with 8 – 10 assortments of noodle dishes, mixed vegetables, tofu, rice, greens, sauted pineapple, and some other dishes that are delicious but I can honestly say that I have no idea what is in them. For 5,000 kip (about 50 cents), you are given a huge bowl and are allowed to heap as much food as you possible can manage. Then the little lady throws the whole mess into a frying pan to heat the meal and kill any lingering germs, of course. When it begins to steam, she douses the skillet with a spoonful of spices, scoops it into your waiting bowl, and gives you a pair of chopsticks. Wa-lah – – a yummy meal that you get to eat hunched over on a child’s size picnic table. It’s great!
And we’re off again – When we leave Luang Prabang in the morning, we will be heading south to Vang Vieng. This area was once the stronghold of Vang Pao’s Hmong guerrillas, recruited by the US CIA to fight the Pathet Lao and Vietnamese communist. Although I’m sure the town still retains some of its history, we are only going there for the amazing water sports that the surrounding area offers. The Lunar New Year is right around the corner as well. To celebrate, we will hopefully we in the capital city, in the middle of all the action. Apparently, we are in for three days of constant chaos and fun.
There is a saying in IndoChina, “The Vietnamese plant the rice, the Khmer watch the rice grow, and the Lao listen to the rice grow.” This is only too obvious as we walk around town. Nobody is ever in a hurry and locals are always sitting around chatting, playing games, or napping. They are definitely not in a rush to pass the time – my kind of lifestyle!