Trying Times in Laos

My two weeks in Laos were ripe with blissful memories and scenic wonderment, although my taste buds suffered neglect like they're rarely felt before. No matter how hard I tried, or how deep I searched for real Laos food I almost always came up disappointed. The variety of food just wasn't there, and the ever-present foods just didn't do it for me. Oh well..we can't all be Malaysia. Anyhoo, lets take a look at what I feed my face while parading through Indochina.

Crispy spring rolls. From China to Vietnam to Laos. Rice paper stuffed with a shredded cabbage mix and deep fried. Not awe-inspiring but cute ‘n crispy. Then again, fried food is like laying on a beach with a’s never that bad!

Ah yes, sticky rice, straight from the fields.

Fried..bugs. Luang Prabang. Curiously this was one of the better prepared food items in Laos. Crunchy, light and seasoned with a touch of salt. Alright I only ate one but it was palatable. A popular snack with beer, though. We have peanuts, they have these.

This chicken pissed me off so I decided to humiliate the fowl in my recap. Okay, so it looked appetizing but I literally couldn’t rip the leg meat off the bone with my jaws. So I gnawed around the edges of the meat like a choosy vulture. Then I just gave up and walked away. How old was that bird? 80? Luckily I had just taken a refreshing dip in a waterfall so I wasn’t too tense. Shame on that chicken.

Laos style Barbecue! It got a little messy as this was our first time experiencing this type of meal. Pick your protein..I went with pork. Then they bring out this metal ‘grill’ and place it atop glowing red-hot coals. The perimeter of the grill is more or less a ‘moat’ where you can cook rice noodles in the provided broth, cook fish or in our case make a huge mess. Take your grilled meat and dip it in sauce, or make a veggie soup. Use your imagination!

Oh, Noodle soup. I don’t wanna see you for a while. Nothing personal. If I grew up on rice noodle soup and knew nothing else, i'd be fine with slurping this soup EVERY SINGLE DAY. In reality I'm a kid who's pet peeve is meal monotony. That being said, habitual repetition of ANY dish is something I try hard to avoid.

My first meal in Laos, and ironically one of my most memorable. Freshly fried shrimp heads (see the eyes?) with rice noodle soup in the background. Maybe Asia’s answer to the oyster cracker or crouton? Dip ‘em or drop ‘em in your soup if you like. Sadly I only found fried shrimp heads once more in Laos.

Here lies a pretty traditional set of rural Laos dishes. This was at a cute little family restaurant in Muang Sing, Northern Laos. Clockwise from top we have fried spring rolls, stir-fried pumpkin, fish laap, fried banana flowers and stir-fried vegetables. All meals are eaten with sticky rice. No questions asked!

Laos, like Vietnam has adopted the baguette into their cuisine. I must admit it’s a welcomed carbohydrate substitute to rice. This puppy’s stuffed with local eggs and veggies and slathered with imported mayo.

Beerlao. A refreshing pilsner for about $1.20 (640 ml). If you’ve ever been in Southeast Asia I’m sure you’ve seen the t-shirt. Anyways the beer itself is quite tasty, although I wouldn't advertise for it without a kick-back.

This meal had issues. I had some spare time before catching the boat up to Mung Ngoi so I decided to grab some lunch. Chicken curry please? The meat (which I’m convinced with pork- but that’s okay) came equipped with large chunks of wiggly fat blobs. The curry sauce tasted like ramen seasoned with extra salt while the potatoes were..quite delicious in comparison. My friend joked that at least it was fresh as we heard an animal scream minutes before the plate came out.

Frying is also a popular form of cookery in Laos, especially with deserts. Here we have fried Banana fritters. Essentially a banana batter dropped in screaming hot oil de coconut until spray-on-tan brown.

vvvvvvvIETNAM coming soon...get those salivary glands lubed!

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