Cooking Lao Food for 40

Fresh, hot chiles THIS is why I love food, communal food: it has the power to turn a gathering of strangers into a collective event. It makes the foreign experience feel less so. It happens every time we travel to Laos, when villagers bring us to their kitchen fires or hand us glasses of Beerlao […]

Don’t Forget the Picnic Dip

Lao jaeow mak len (grilled tomato salsa) in the making Folks, the holiday is almost here. Are you ready? I’ve just posted six recipes for dips, salsas and relishes that you’ll want on your 4th of July table. It’s an eclectic mix, reflecting the multicultural nation this is. Have a gander at The Faster Times. […]

Grilled Beef Wrapped in Wild Betel

I got a yen for wild betel in Vieng Xay, in a laid-back local market that sold an assortment of lunch pickings—sticky rice, sour bamboo, tangy dollops of jaeow, spicy little meatballs and grilled buffalo (above, middle, left of the balls) that had been mixed with onions and spices, wrapped in betel leaves and grilled […]

Lao Sour

En route to Boualapha recently, we stopped for a light roadside lunch of sour pickled fish (som paa) and sour pickled pork (som muu), both of which had been grilled in banana leaves. Each little packet opened to the most potent pate-like wedges (white fish, pink pork) with a firm consistency and an incredibly sour […]

Now, About that Jaeow:

If you’ve read my previous post — a 9-day diary of Lao village food — you’ll fully understand the importance of chile in every Lao meal. And you’ll recognize that chile takes the form of jaeow, a paste that’s pounded with mortar and pestle. One morning, I follow Huang and Louen, the two cooks, into […]

A Rural Lao Food Diary

Breakfast, Day 5 Last month, we spent nine days in the field with Jim Harris’s team in rural Phongsali province. We camped at the local dispensary and showered with cold river water, which was piped uphill to the village. The team hired two young women to cook, clean and launder. Our meals were served communally, […]