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Is it Fear Factor?

Nope, it’s just some of the more “interesting” aisles (at least to my Western eyes) of the morning market in Luang Prabang, Laos. Our day at the Tamarind Restaurant Riverside cooking class began with a trip to the market and for your viewing pleasure today, I present you with pictures that I took even though I could sometimes barely look…. Yep, it’s called taking one for the blog…


Eels. Ok, live eels.


Well chicken feet are a delicacy in these parts…


Points to anyone who guesses what this is? Nope, not cranberry jello but it’s congealed blood (buffalo, I think?). Again, considered a delicacy and served fried.


Eggs. And chicken.


Pigs’ trotters.


Bee larvae. Of course Neil ate one of these and it left a nasty taste in his mouth.


Yikes, I wouldn’t want to meet this guy in a muddy river….

Also, towards the end of the trip, we took a walk out to the morning market in Don Khong where we were the only Western people. More local delicacies awaited us there:


Ok, 6am is a little too early to be looking at what looks like green milk with fluorescent bits floating in it. In fact, it’s actually some sort of tapioca based drink – very popular in Laos. Here it is being made:



Frogs.


More fluorescent colours. I believe this is also a tapioca based product.

I have to say that whilst some of the foods available might not appeal to my Western palate, I do admire a people that in this day and age of consumerism and wasteful practices, manages to use every part of the animals they eat. In a country so poor, one cannot afford to waste anything edible.

And whilst I might not have tasted some of the more exotic ingredients or foods on offer when I was there, I will reiterate how impressed we were with both the selection and quality of fresh foods available. For a non-”foodie” destination, we had some pretty gourmet eating experiences but I am glad we also got to see markets that many tourists do not visit because really, how better to get to know a country than to go shopping with its people?

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27 Responses to Is it Fear Factor?

  1. Conor @ HoldtheBeef October 5, 2009 at 10:23 #

    It's funny how I love to eat eat, but the thought of eating one when seeing them alive is horrific. Not so sure about the whole congealed blood business though. My iron levels are just fine, thank you very much.

  2. itsawrapteacher October 5, 2009 at 12:10 #

    Maybe I shouldn't have read this while eating my breakfast…

  3. high/low October 5, 2009 at 18:39 #

    I feel like I'm watching a Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman episode! My hubby would probably venture trying all of it…

  4. Bromography October 5, 2009 at 21:01 #

    I am not sure if I am intrigued or repulsed. Sometimes it is better to taste first rather than look.

  5. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite October 6, 2009 at 00:08 #

    Bromography – Intrigued and repulsed – indeed.

    High/Low – yes, I am sure Neil would have had we had time…

    itsawrap – sorry!

    Conor – yeah the congealed blood was possibly the most offputting of everything…

  6. Yvonne October 6, 2009 at 00:15 #

    OMG this is fantastic!!! It totally reminds me of the wet market that my mom used to drag me to when I was growing up. Everything looks so familiar except for the larvae…that's just gross ;p Did they skin the frogs or the chicks while you were there – it's amazing!

  7. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite October 6, 2009 at 00:16 #

    Yvonne – glad you like this post! I have the feeling from the lack of comments that most people didn't!

  8. Simply Life October 6, 2009 at 00:38 #

    Wow,seriously I just learn so much about new foods from your blog -thanks!

  9. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite October 6, 2009 at 00:54 #

    Simply Life – sometimes it's prettier foods than others, though, right?

    Yvonne – Errr – there was no skinning involved…

  10. Mary-Laure October 6, 2009 at 01:49 #

    These pics are just TERRIFYING!! I'm a vegetarian and when I see such images I remember why!!

  11. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite October 6, 2009 at 01:56 #

    Mary-Laure – sorry! It was nearly enough to turn me completely vegetarian too!!! I could barely look at some of the things so it's a wonder the pictures even came out!!!

  12. penny aka jeroxie October 6, 2009 at 09:17 #

    Amazing. I love stuff like that and to be honest, I have eaten most of those foods cept for the bee larvue!

  13. Andy October 6, 2009 at 10:08 #

    Its Andy here fantastic pictures Mardi will be off there again in December fancy a second Lap of Laos? (we might make Hinboun Cave this time).

  14. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite October 6, 2009 at 10:45 #

    Penny – I thought you might identify with some of those foods! The bee larvae are quite something!

    Andy – HI THERE! Would love to make it to the Hinboun caves this December but Paris and Brittany are calling….! Thanks for commenting!

  15. Neil C. Phillips October 6, 2009 at 11:08 #

    One word: yum.

    While not exactly part of my usual carnivore's credo ("The cuter it is alive, the tastier it is on the plate"), I relish getting closer to the entire food chain. And yes, that means veggies too (re Mardi's FDO blog posts).

    I tried most everything, but we never did locate the congealed blood on a menu anywhere, alas.

    P.S. Nice to hear from you, Andy. Does that mean you're back with Peregrine?

  16. Divina Pe October 6, 2009 at 14:15 #

    I could tolerate the eel, the chicken feet, the pig trotters. The last photo, we have those too in the Philippines.

  17. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite October 6, 2009 at 15:41 #

    Neil – ugh re: your carnivore's credo.

    Divina – You're a better woman than me!

  18. Fresh Local and Best October 6, 2009 at 17:07 #

    I have to give it to you. I'm familiar with a bunch of the items in your photos, but I'm not as brave as you to revisit them. Kudos. You go girl!

  19. The Chickenless Chick October 6, 2009 at 19:38 #

    I have a friend who used to write a column for Orlando Metromix (http://orlando.metromix.com/) about his human-garbage-disposal-like tendencies. Every Friday he'd eat something Westerners consider bizarre. I partook of the barbequed chicken feet, but drew the line at duck eggs that had been left to rot and turn black.

    Always interesting to learn about cross-cultural differences between prized foods. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Heather October 6, 2009 at 20:00 #

    Um, one word, yuk…! ha!

  21. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite October 6, 2009 at 22:58 #

    Fresh Local – thanks – it was touch looking at some of the stuff!

    Chickenless – I have had those duck eggs and they are actually not that bad!

    Heather – well of course the vegetarian says that!

  22. Melissa October 7, 2009 at 02:40 #

    Those chicken and eggs look like the unhatched eggs they had to cook with on Sunday's episode of "The Next Iron Chef". Gross! But love your blog! :)

  23. Neil C. Phillips October 7, 2009 at 12:06 #

    Melissa, Mardi didn't mention (or maybe didn't see? – we were separated in the market much of the time) the chicken eggs with numbers written on them in pencil.

    The numbers represented how many days of embryo there were, so you could select a "simple" agg, or one more developed and decidedly crunchy with soft (still edible) bones.

    She also – and I KNOW this was conscious! – did not mention the buffalo uterus with foetus still inside. Accidnetally killed, but a prized possession in the market. She wouldn;t even take a picture of that… ;-)

  24. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite October 7, 2009 at 12:38 #

    Melissa – I didn't see that episode but doubt I could have watched that…

    Neil – I have the pictures of the numbered eggs for a later post because they fall into the "pretty picture" category.

  25. ellen October 10, 2009 at 15:07 #

    I love it allllllll……lets travel together and go food crazy!

  26. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite October 10, 2009 at 15:24 #

    Ellen – LOL food crazy!!!

  27. The Best Family October 19, 2009 at 21:28 #

    i am reminded of the amazing race eating challenges . . .

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