We’re in the little village of Pa-am, in Attapeu province, looking at a Soviet-era anti-aircraft missile that sits fully intact in the village square. (Actually, it’s more of a triangle of dirt). The missile faces the Ho Chi Minh Trail. And here at a little restaurant across the street, I eat My Favorite Cukes.
These cukes are shaved thin and pounded in a special mortar and pestle used throughout the region for making papaya and cucumber salads (see picture in this entry). Mix the cuke shavings with thin tomato slices, chopped hot red chili, freshly squeezed lime juice or rice vinegar, raw garlic, a pinch of peanut, and fish sauce. As usual, make it to please your tastebuds (the Laotians, of course, like it hot and tangy).