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Laos – Cooking and Food Edit

Overview of Laotian Cuisine HistoryEdit

Laos is a country situated in the South-East of Asia, with a predominant mountain relief and tropical climate. The most significant agricultural product is rice, which assures the intern needs of the population, considering the fact that rice is the staple aliment (consumed cooked – boiled, dry and mashed) in the Laotian cuisine. rice is usually combined with meat and the favorite kind of meat is the Duck, which is prepared as laap, which contains uncooked rice grains, which have been dry, fried and then crushed.

There are many influences in the Laotian cuisine, coming from the neighbor countries, such as China (spiced meats, various rice recipes, stewed veggies and all sorts of desserts), Vietnamese (especially in the city restaurants that include Vietnamese menus). There are also European influences, mostly French, with various kinds of breads and cheese, which can be found in all the important cities and in the small villages.

Cuisines of Laos Edit

Map of Laos

Map of Laos- Click to enlarge

The Laotian cuisine is the refection of many cultural cuisines, belonging to different countries and even continents. In the West of the country, the main dishes are Chinese inspired, as they include numerous spices. rice is mainly eaten with the bare fingers and people in the countryside eat the meal while sitting on the floor and sharing all the dishes. Some of the most important influences in the Laotian cuisine are the French (due to the colonial French) and the neighbor influences, such as China and Thailand – this is the reason why a wide range of Laotian dishes are very spicy and flavored. The cuisine of province France is offered in the capital’s restaurants, Vientiane. In here, Vietnamese food is also available, represented by stuffed baguettes, with various kinds of meat, veggies and cheese. The French influences mostly focus on various kinds of breads, like the French baguettes, which can be found in the larger towns and the French bread or French tossed salads.

Preparation Methods for Laotian Cooking Edit

Laotian cuisine uses elements from various cooking traditions borrowed from their neighbors and developed from their own traditional dishes. While there are no specific or unique preparation methods for Laotian cooking, we should point out that attention to detail is important in the Laotian cuisine. Using the right amount of spices for example is essential – either for spicing up the taste or for coloring the dish. The diversity of vegetables and cereals found in Laos is also noticed in the delicious dishes belonging to their cuisine. The visual attractiveness of the dish is also important, and a balance between colors and proportion differentiates. Each traditional dish has a special cooking method, which is more or less general in all of Laos’s regions. Meat is one of the main elements of most Laotian dishes and cured and smoked hams are often parts of delicious dishes.

Special Equipment for Laotian Cooking Edit

Ranging from cake pans, can openers, colanders, egg rings, poachers and holders, food dishers & portioners, food pans & food containers to other kitchen utensils, such as food scales, food scoops and fryer baskets & accessories, the Laotian cuisine needs a diverse cooking equipment set in order to produce the most sophisticated Laotian dishes. You should consider insulated food carriers if you are transporting the food and a full set of kitchen linens and uniforms if you wish to look like a pro. Here are a few other items that will come handy while cooking Laotian food: juicers, kitchen knives, kitchen slicers, kitchen thermometers, measuring cups & measuring spoons, miscellaneous utensils, mixing bowls and skimmers & strainers. Essential utensils like serving spoons, spatulas, forks, turners, scrapers and tongs should also be part of your cooking "arsenal". 

Two pieces of equipment that are in nearly every Lao household are the mortar and pestle and the houd and maw neung (bamboo sticky rice steamer and pot).  The mortar and pestle is frequently used to crush, bruise, and blend ingredients for many popular dishes such as Tam Mak Hoong (green papaya salad). The traditional 7" deep clay mortar with a wooden pestle is common, inexpensive, rustic, and very functional.  The houd and maw neung are the traditional tools for steaming sticky rice (kao niao), which is a staple served with every Lao meal.

Laotian Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

Laotian people enjoy celebrating and keeping the values and traditions of their culture through numerous festivals and celebrations all through the year. Some of the most important Laotian celebrations are: Magha Puja (Makkha Bu-saa, full moon), bun Pha Wet in January, the local festival Boun Khoun Khao, Boun Pimai (which lasts for 3 days), Labor Day, Children’s Day and Haw Khao Padap Din (full moon). On both religious celebrations and various festivals, Laotian people eat complex meals, which are prepared for many hours by the locals. The rice is a staple ingredient on these occasions, together with meat like Duck, various pastries and fillings.

People in Laotian Food Edit

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There are many chefs who creatively use the basic ingredients and cooking method for traditional Laotian dishes and create original and delicious food variations. Laotian chefs are passionate about their traditional dishes and they enjoy presenting them to foreigners who have never tasted them before. Whether they are cooking dishes that go back in time for centuries or brand new, modern dishes, Laotian chefs take pride in what they do, and this is readily noticeable in the unforgettable taste of their cooking.

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