Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lao Food Festival

Every year on the Fourth of July the Lao-American community from across the country converges at the Buddhist temple, Wat Lao Buddhavong, in Catlett, VA, to celebrate America and to recreate a bit of their homeland.

Food plays an important role in Lao society. Walk into a Lao home and the first thing you're asked is "Have you eaten yet?" Even religious offerings show respect by offering foods to the monks and this event was no exception.

Alm Bowls collect food for the monks, Catlett, VA.
See photo of alm giving during morning procession of Buddhist monks in Luang Prabang

A couple of my siblings and I drove ten hours, from New Hampshire to Virginia, to walk down memory lane and reminisce about our childhood in Laos. We were not disappointed. We were transported back by the sights and sounds, and most of all, by the food, too complicated to make in our own kitchens. That could now change, however. We were inspired by the experience and vowed to start making some of our favorite native dishes. So stay tuned and if you have a favorite Lao recipe, please email me or share it in the comment section below.

For food lovers interested in authentic Lao food, this is as close as you can get without a visa. There are two festivals each year--July Fouth and the Lao New Year, usually in April, according to the lunar calendar.

Here's a sampling of dishes typically found at festivals and celebrations from the old country.

Tum Mak Hoong - Green Papaya Salad - hot, sweet and sour

Savory and sweet coconut pancakes made with rice flour and coconut milk, fried in a cast iron mold.

Grilled meats infused with the ever present lemon grass, chili peppers, and fish sauce

Pickled mangoes, a sour and salty treat

Tropical Mangos and Lychee Nuts

Traditional Lao costume

Sweet drinks and desserts

Grilled coconut sticky rice in banana leaf

Sesame Balls filled with sweet mung bean paste

Kao Lam - bamboo logs filled with coconut sticky rice and taro or black beans

Kao Lam is enjoyed warm or at room temperature for snack or dessert.

Lao Links I like that you might enjoy:
Lao Bumpkin
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Amy D said...

Wow, Ting, what a visual treat! I'm glad you were able to go to this festival with your siblings, looks like a fun time.

delores st said...

ting - so glad i finally logged on - i want to go to that festival. what fun. your photos are great. it sure was fun harvesting with you and your friends. looking forward to seeing those pics! i couldn't find your recipe for the satay chicken and peanut sauce ... where is it??? sounds delicious... please email me - thanks. delores