Being in an interracial/intercultural marriage has broadened my perspective as well as my palette. I never could have imagined myself eating Lao food on the floor in typical Lao style. I never could have imagined eating anything that is made with fish sauce. I never knew that one day I would own a rice cooker and be able to make steamed rice well (not too soggy, not too dry). If you would have told me that one day I would eat Laap or other foods that contain the intestinal parts of animals I would have scoffed at you.
I can’t tell you how many times I end up with a grain of rice stuck to my foot, elbow, or clothing. If you would have told me that one day I would find a grain of rice on the sleeve of my husband’s robe I’d laugh. And I did laugh…and it did happen 2 weeks ago. Little grains of rice appear everywhere now like little fairies.
Being married to my Laotian American husband has brought with it many condiments I never would have known about. Fried onion, fried garlic, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, Sriracha sauce, soy sauce, Black soy sauce just to name a few. And I never knew how many dishes you can spruce up with a little sprig of mint or cilantro.
One thing I still haven’t fully mastered is eating on the ground. I don’t think my European ancestry has equipped me for sitting cross-legged for long periods of time. On the plus side, it’s sort of a dieting strategy. I can only sit on the ground for about 10 minutes before my legs and back go numb, so therefore I don’t eat that much.
Some of my favorite foods I would have never discovered without the help of my husband. Pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup), laap gai (Lao-style chicken salad,it’s taken a while for my palette to enjoy this), Kao piak sien (Lao noodle soup), and Calamari (I know this isn’t very exotic, but if you knew my family and their extremely limited food choices you’d be amazed that I eat fried squid!).
Culture and food go hand-in-hand. I feel like the more I learn about Lao food, the more I learn about Lao culture. There’s always food on the table…always! I feel like Lao people eat throughout the day instead of having specific times for meals. Fresh fruit and fresh vegetables abound. As well as spiciness and sticky rice.
I’m happy to be able to participate in Lao culture and happy to know the joy that only warm sticky rice can bring.