An Analysis of the Food of Laos

Tofu and veggies in a green coconut sauce with sticky rice in a basket
Tofu and veggies in a green coconut sauce with sticky rice in a basket

Much of the food in Laos is similar to food in Thailand, with a steady diet of curries, fried rice and fried noodles with your choice of with vegetables, egg, chicken, pork or fish. Curry soups are also very popular and most dishes are supplemented by a wicker basket of sticky rice. The idea is to ball up the rice in your hand and dip it into a coconut milk, yellow, red or green curry sauce

A few other local dishes I sampled were a papaya salad, meatballs with peanut sauce and laarb, which is the national dish. Consisting of chopped chicken, beef or fish, laarb is flavored with lime, mint, chili powder and fish sauce (but not on mine).

Some dishes I didn’t get to try included dried out fish hanging in the sun, some form of boiled egg that is roasted over a flame, fermented eggs, snails, scary looking soups with full animal heads still attached and dead squirrels that I saw for sale on a street corner.

Dead squirrel for sale on the side of the road
Dead squirrel for sale on the side of the road

Western food is also very popular: at least in the more touristy areas. Most restaurants have some form of burger, pizza, pasta, omelets or other comfort food. But the best are the sandwiches from the street stalls. Every five feet a local vendor sells baguettes filled with ham, bacon, egg, chicken, veggies, cheese (mostly smeared Laughing Cow) or pate. I can’t even count how many I ate during our two weeks in Laos, but they were all awesome and filling.

Drinks-wise, every corner offers fresh fruit shakes for $1 or less. Needless to say I had at least a few pineapple shakes a day. Laos coffee is also very good, strong and sweet, as it comes with a thick layer of sweet condensed milk. I usually hate coffee but found myself loving this one. The national beer is Beer Lao and is somewhat lacking in taste but benefits from a few shakes of salt.

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