Global Views
   Middle East & Africa
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 English Teaching
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
Letters from America
A Little Bit of Laos — A Culinary Adventure
By Greg Evans
Special Correspondent
Charlotte is not only a place that has adopted the excellent cuisines and culture of South Korea, but also that of Laos. Photo by Greg Evans
It was a foodie’s dream vacation on Willard Street in Charlotte, where I took part in a festival of eating that would make Mark Wiens fall to his knees with jealousy. Stepping into the two-story, pale-yellow home, I thought I had an idea of what to expect, a nine-year-old girl’s birthday party; I figured a typical spread of fast-food chain pizza or pigs in a blanket, but the reality was that I had no clue.

The aromas that filled my nostrils, less than a foot into the residence, nearly lifted me off the ground and up into the clouds. I immediately started salivating and could barely greet and introduce myself to the hosts and the rest of the family. There is something about Southeast Asian food that I find irresistible, and the southeast Asian people are the most generous to strangers I have encountered.

For me, the ultimate culinary experience is a menu that the average Charlottean would have trouble pronouncing, and dishes that most might be skeptical to even try. I breathed in deeply, I knew the bouquet, I knew I was where I needed to be.

The most familiar scent was “Larb,” country of origin, Laos is the national dish of Laos. I shared pleasantries with the host family who kindly welcomed me into their home. I found myself standing before a steaming tray of this porky, minty, cilantro-blasted, lime juice-squeezed, toasted ground rice-mixed, and fish sauced-infused meaty salad perfection. Did I mention the perspiration-inducing lightning-hot chilies? For a non-Lao to partake in a true Laotian spread requires one to bring along a beach towel to prepare for the heat. The spice of the food is at a righteous level that helps to weed out the weak in the population. Even my eyeballs seemed to sweat.

There was Lard Nar, Tam Maak Hoong (spicy green papaya salad), sticky rice, and egg rolls. I was offered a seat at the table, provided a plate, and handed the first serving spoon, along with a baggy of sticky rice steamed in banana leaves. Conversations, most of them in Laotian, were taking place in both the kitchen and the living room. The sound of the language is like music, soothing, and accompanies the exotic display of foods as the pairing of fine wine.

Lao cuisine is different from some of the neighboring Southeast Asian countries in that the food is not sweet. There is a common saying in Laos, “van pen lom; khom pen ya,” translates to, “sweet brings you down; bitter is medicine.” The food is sour, bitter, salty, spicy, and citrusy but not sweet as one might expect in Filipino, Chinese, or Thai dishes. Lao cooking is also known for using a healthy amount of raw, undressed vegetables and greens on the side.

Sitting at the table, glancing over the buffet trying to decide what else to eat despite being uncomfortably full, I kept admiring the large platter of fresh greens and herbs, fragrant, welcoming, and organic, cleansing not just the palette but the mind. Eating well is indeed living well, and one of the best ways to get to know another culture is by sharing an authentic meal.

As with any culture, the food of Laos was influenced over the years by colonizers, traders, nomads, and others that arrived bringing new ingredients and sharing cooking secrets and techniques. It was primarily the Columbia exchange, named after the Italian explorer, and colonizer, Christopher Columbus, that changed the landscape of the culinary experience in Southeast Asia including Laos. Plants, animals, technology, and most importantly humans (both enslaved and free) had a dramatic influence on gastronomy. Non-native foods brought to the region from faraway places include papaya, tomato, pineapple, and chili peppers to name a few.

As much as I would love to wake up tomorrow in Vientiane or Luang Prabang and partake in a culinary adventure, I am lucky in the sense that I don’t have to leave Charlotte to experience a little bit of Laos.

Related Articles
    I Could Tell by the Way Lalisa Looked at Me ...
    Great Art of Suffering -- Degenerate Life of ...
    The Dreaded Slump
    An Evening in Savannah
    A Successful Life Is There for the Taking!
    The Millennial's Guide to a Successful ...
    The Zen of Blackpink
    The Mayan Predictions Were Spot On!
    Confessions of a Single Dad -- I Lost the ...
    Blurred Highway
    How You Too Can Overcome Depression and ...
    Ghost Sightings Around Mooresville Predate ...
    No Place Better to Spend Autumn Evenings than ...
    Poking a Hornets Nest -- A Carolina Beach ...
    First-Ever Filipino Restaurant Experience, And ...
    Pfizer Vaccine Approved by FDA in America
    The Blurred Highway
    The Speed Trap -- A Cash Register for Small ...
    What Glitters Truly Is Gold -- Through the ...
    There Is Buzz with Elon Musk -- Will Dogecoin ...
    Inside Africa -- A Missionary’s Work in ...
    A Night of Celebration -- 4th of July and a ...
    Miami Building Collapse -- Possible Flaw in ...
    Building Collapses in Miami, Florida, Leaving ...
    Color Blindness in a Colorful World
    Lake Norman, the Great Energy Vortex
    The Great Hostage Hoax
    Anti-Asian Attacks an Ongoing Problem
    By the Grace of God -- The Cylk Cozart Story
    Eli Broad, Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at ...
    Clutch Coffee Bar Expanding to Florida
    Ten Years Later: Chris Hondros Honored by ...
    Local Charlotte Boutique Is Turning Heads
    Sailing on Lake Norman without a Rudder
    Zen and the Art of Ziplining at Lake Norman
    The Proper Etiquette for Street Fighting in ...
    The Silent Voices -- A Look inside the Work ...
    A Yankee in Dixie
    First Hiking Experience, Lake Norman -- Where ...
    Who Is the Bigger Band, the Beatles or BTS?
    Misogynism Within the Gaming Community
    When Has It Gone Too Far -- the Illicit Affair!
    The Camping Experience! Well Eventually ...
    Taken from Jurassic Park and Put into ...
    10 Most Irritating Bad Driver Behaviors
    Throw Me a Bone -- What in the World Is a ...
    Charlotte, North Carolina's South End ...

Greg Evans, associate director of communications of King University in Bristol TN, in the US, serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times. The seasoned journalist has been writing for such papers as the Mooresville Tribune, Lake Norman Citizen, the Bristol Herald Courier, and the Sentinel-Progress (Easley, SC). He can be reached at






The Seoul Times, Shinheung-ro 36ga-gil 24-4, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 82-10-6606-6188
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange