Tour of the local market in Laos
This is not the blog post to chicken out. I am going to give you a (video) tour of a market in Luang Prabang. Not just on herbs and spices and the nice clean green stuff. Nope, we are going to go all the way to the meat section and zoom in on some of the more
flashy fleshy food.
A visit to a local market is an eye opener to culinary customs in Laos. You will see all the vegetables and greens, fragrant herbs and everything else to accompany traditional sticky rice.
Above all, be prepared to see animals and animal parts that you will not find on western tables. Congealed blood, animal foetus, buffalo and pig uterus, buffalo skin, offal, bile, rodents, wild caught animals, farmed frogs, birds, bugs and insects… are just one too many reasons to go veggie.
Let’s start nice and easy.
Lao people like strong flavours. They like to include chillies to their meals keep it spicy but bitter tastes suit their palate equally well. The small pea eggplant and many bitter greens and fragrant herbs are part of Laotian diets. Dill and mint add a bit of a Lao edge to dishes. And of course padek (the pungent fermented fish sauce) and MSG (monosodium glutamate – an intruder from Chinese cuisine) are the number one flavour enhancers.
Lao ingredients typically encompass bamboo shoots, banana flower and leaves, coriander, basil, chilli, mushrooms, eggplant, galangal (similar to ginger but pinkish), kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, lime juice, shrimp paste, snake beans (30 cm in length or more) and spring onions.
The morning market supplies all restaurants in Luang Prabang and the taste and aroma of dishes are a testimony of market freshness.
We have smelled, tasted and touched a large variety of leafy greens.
Watch our cooking class chef introducing Lao spices.
Jicama, a Lao sweet crunch, hops for chewing, sweet coconut confections, tapioca and other snacks were on offer.
Laos has a grand fruit variety and we treated ourselves to a fresh fruit platter – daily.
Seasonal fruits will also appear at the roadside.
The bananas in Laos are dandy. Small and sweet.
Take a look at other market stands.
We learned to distinguish rice.
This is basmati rice.
This is sticky rice.
Sticky rice is kept and served in those hand made baskets.
Dried and fermented meats are common. Most fish come from farmed ponds as the river sees less water animals.
Now that you have taken in more critters that will be processed to fill human stomachs, you might enjoy to walk through more non-vegetarian terrain of the market.
For relaxation, the market also has a cosmetics, household and clothes section.
Some newcomers are introduced to the business at a very young age.
And finally, here is the best market picture. Eh…
Lao markets are friendly, fun and an exciting ride for the olfactory system.
See what Tomek and I created with Lao market produce, in the next post!