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:


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?

27 thoughts on “Is it Fear Factor?”

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

  3. 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…

  4. 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!

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

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

    Yvonne – Errr – there was no skinning involved…

  7. 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!!!

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

  9. 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).

  10. 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!

  11. 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?

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

  13. 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!

  14. I have a friend who used to write a column for Orlando Metromix ( 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!

  15. 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!

  16. 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! 🙂

  17. 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… 😉

  18. 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.


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