I am no chef
I am no chef, but on the recommendation of another volunteer, I booked a cooking class run by the local Tamarind restaurant. Incidentally tamarind has become one of my favorite flavors since coming to Laos.
Three of us from GVI met our guide Sit at the restaurant and then took a tuk tuk to Phousy market. This market that sells food, clothing, toiletries, home ware, hardware and anything else you might need, is where the locals shop. Sit taught us about the Lao herbs and vegetables that that are collected from the forest or grown by farmers. We then visited a snack food stall where we got to sample a few local treats, crispy dried river weed with garlic and sesame, dried mushrooms and bamboo shoots. All tasty, but until then things I had been afraid to try.
Some of the group decided to take a detour around the butchery, interesting but not for those with weak stomachs. Buffalo intestines soaking in large basins, blocks of gelled buffalo blood and my personal hate, chicken claws.
We then traveled out to the cooking school in the country, an idyllic spot, with a large water lily pond surrounded by tropical plants. We actually cooked some of the dishes from the restaurant menu, including jeow mak keu ( an eggplant dip), mok pa (steamed fish in banana leaves), lemon grass stuffed with chicken and of course sticky rice.
It was a great experience to cook with and taste the different Lao flavors. We worked individually so I was able to leave out the chilli, but I was the only one in the group brave enough to add buffalo bile to my mince after cooking it. I am pleased to report it tasted fine and I lived to tell the tale.
Then came dessert. We hand squeezed fresh coconut to make coconut milk and then cooked it with purple sticky rice. We then spooned generous amounts of tamarind sauce over the rice, oh my gosh, delicious!
Totally replete, it was unfortunately time to leave that beautiful place. Thank you Sit and Tamarind restaurant for a wonderful experience.
Written by 2 month volunteer, Kay
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