Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm usually pretty adventurous when it comes to eating the street food while I'm travelling.  After all, the locals survive on it.  I've eaten burgers on Harare bus station and something wrapped in newspaper in Djem el Fnaa in Marrakech.  I even tried jellyfish in China.  But some of the food in Laos was beyond me.  I definitely didn't fancy the chicken feet kababs for instance although they are pretty ordinary and found in Thailand too.  Some of the other meat in stews was, well, unrecognisable and I ate that.  It would be impolite to leave it. 

I did draw the line at rats though.  When I showed this photo of rats for sale in the market in Luang Prabang even my friends in Thailand were shocked.   There's just no way I could bring myself to eat rat.

There's the point though.  The woman with the stall had little else to sell.  With average incomes in the poorer villages of no more than $1 a day, many people really are living at the subsistence level and, for them, rats a a valuable source of protein.  In fact one of the eerie things about Laos is that there are no birds: they have all been eaten.  Sometimes it's easy to forget what hunger means.

That is not to say, of course, that there wasn't good food in Laos.  From another stall from a village in the middle of nowhere I had a pork kebab - with the meat coming from a wild boar.  It was about the best pork I've ever eaten and still cost me less than $1.



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