Thursday, 26 May 2011

LAOS: Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is a little town in the North of Laos where the Nam Khan river meets the Mekong River. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms.

The local morning market is a modest affair running along a small street in the centre of town. You can buy anything from fruit and vegetables, rice and beans to live fish and frogs.

You can see busy vendors cutting, chopping, portioning and packaging throughout the day. This lady here is peeling bamboo shoots to be used in local dishes like soups or stews.

The spring rolls were delicious. There's the fried and the fresh ones filled with rice noodles, bean sprouts, lettuce and mint. The peanut dipping sauce is what brings all the flavours together: spicy, sweet and salty.

The noodles were wrapped in a banana leaf and come with herbs, fried onion and puffed rice.

Coffee is a big deal in Laos and almost as sacred as Beerlao, the state-owned brewery's local beer brand. Robusta and Arabica coffee beans, tea and even tabacco have the ideal climate on the Bolovens Plateau to grow. It is custom to drink the coffee with condensed milk, followed by a glass of green tea.

Me and my sweet tooth... This lady here sells coconut and pandan ice cream with pandan jelly. Yum!

Laos was under French Protectorate from 1893-1954 and you can still see the influence in the architecture and taste in the food. French baguettes can be found throughout the city and are great for breakfast, for lunch or actually anytime. This one is filled with lettuce, tomato, onions, cucumber and tofu and a generous amount of mayo and sweet chili sauce, Voilà!. But there's also fried chicken, tuna, omlette and various combinations of all of the latter. There are also sweet versions like jam or nutella and can be combined with the oreo cookie milk shakes that can be found everywhere in Luang Prabang. Bon Appétit!

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