2017-02-17 / Travel

Laos, strangely wonderful

Part 2: A Laotian Dinner
By Warner M. Montgomery


I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with this Lao family. I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with this Lao family. On my trip to Laos in 1970 I asked— in Thai— a worker at my hotel for directions to a good local restaurant. My ability to (barely) speak his language got me an invitation to dinner at his home. I was honored.

The next morning, he and I walked through rice paddies, banana trees, and scores of donkeys and water buffaloes to a neat wooden house on stilts in a small village outside of town. He introduced me to his family— 20 or so people from three generations. It was a grand occasion. Strangely, one of the children was white and spoke English. I didn’t inquire about him, and no one offered an explanation.

I was not surprised I was the subject of attention. The women giggled as the men chatted away to me assuming I understood what they were saying. I just nodded and smiled. The children stared intently at me for several minutes, touched my skin and hair, then ran away giggling. That had been a standard reaction during my Peace Corps days, so I just played along by making faces. I was a hit until their elders chased them away.

Thai Mekhong beer was the drink of choice in Laos.Thai Mekhong beer was the drink of choice in Laos.
I loved Thai food while in the Peace Corps, and I love Thai food today, BUT what I ate that day I hope to never eat again: raw pork strips, red ant salad, beef testicles, duck blood soup, and fermented frogs. I drank Thai Mekhong Beer to wash it down before enjoying a dessert of spring onions in coconut milk and sticky rice balls with mango.

At the end of the dinner, I thanked my hosts, walked back to my hotel room, and, as quietly as possible, threw up in the squat john (toilet).

Continued next week



These are some of the cooks who prepared the wonderful meal. These are some of the cooks who prepared the wonderful meal.

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