Thursday, December 24, 2009

stuck

so i am in hawaii where its green and bright, the sun to shine by day and all the stars at night...

but sometimes you can get yourself in trouble when you get into a car with a person that don't know you can't drive on sand...

here is that person:

and here is the aloha spirit in action; the guy in the truck to the left stepped in to help us out - (of course, before he kindly offered to pull us out, he asked us for some money. but i believe in giving people credit for acts of kindness regardless of what they did in the lead up to it.) but stuck or not, being on a beach in hawaii is better than the best winter day in seattle...


Saturday, December 19, 2009

white people eating weird


so - a seattle pi blogger visited my favorite Lao grocery store in seattle (vientiane) and decided to try some of the homemade dishes in the little plastic tubs that they sell there in their cooler. i've bought them myself - especially when i am cooking some food for friends, and i don't have the time to do everything myself. (ask the farrar family; i brought them laap one time, and they "loved" it.)

well, this guy had just finished reading ant egg soup for the soul, or whatever its called. i reviewed it a while back... but even after his Lao food experience, he said he still struggles to define Lao food. he says the laap is too bitter, and assumes it americanized. (it's not.) but i really don't see what the problem is myself. if it's hot and spicy (and clearly not mexican) and it tastes really good: it's Lao food.

check out his article here.
http://blog.seattlepi.com/eatingweird/archives/163988.asp

its a pretty humorous read, as this guy tries a little too hard to be funny (he plays off stereotypes about the dangers of visiting a southend grocery store. he also tends towards redundancy in his attempt to describe the cashier; he keeps going on and on - about his hair, his looks, what he's doing with cds, blah blah blah, and even includes a vaguely offensive reference to the cashier resembling an asian mafia guy in a john woo film. funny thing: i know this particular cashier, and he's nothing like the description in the article. also, he compares the jeo to martial arts... yikes! did you really have to use that analogy, dear white blogger? seems like Lao food isn't the only thing you have trouble describing. apparently, if someone is asian and doesn't fit the stereotype of violin solos and high math scores, then they are difficult to describe?)

and look at this picture, what is he doing with that rice and bamboo? some white people really need a tour guide to get them through a meal that aint pizza. Lao food really isn't weird folks... but put in front of the wrong person, it can be.



p.s. i will soon post another recipe from aeuey penn's book... and i promise i don't hate white people. three of my best friends are white.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

sea games

if u aint been paying attention, the 25th sea games (in Laos this year) are in full swing.



check out the website:
http://www.laoseagames2009.com/v1/index.aspx

Monday, December 07, 2009

peopleoflowes.com

in homage to peopleofwalmart.com, that amazingly fascinating and intellectual website devoted to displaying the wonder of americana as found in the aisles of walmart, i am considering starting my own website called: the people of lowes home improvement store.

and here is my first person of lowes:

representing. that's all i can say about him. and he almost caught me taking this picture. i don't know how they sneak taking those pictures over at walmart by the way, its kinda stressful. but to those of you that want to be on my new website, just show up to lowes representing Laos in some form or fashion, and you're in.

(and also, if you haven't seen people of walmart, you really should. click on link above.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

page 114: beef laap

this is another dish from penn's cook book that i've made several times. she calls it "beef lob," like if you're gonna lob it across the room at your significant other after you finish making it. (it's on page 114 of the book.) i spell it laab or laap, and in thai restaurants, its usually listed as larb (which sounds equally as unappetizing as lob.)

this is actually a pretty simple dish to make, and it goes great with sticky rice - so it's well worth the effort you'll put into it. really, its just beef (kinda minced) lightly cooked and then mixed with lime, fish sauce, hot peppers, lime leaves, rice powder, green onions, cilantro and mint.

but here is the main issue with penn's recipe: first off, penn starts with 1 pound of extra-lean ground beef. well, laap just doesn't taste as good when made like that. you really should start with some sorta beef steak and chop it up yourself, or it won't seem right. (i actually am not sure that i know the right way to chop up the beef, so i may need a little help with this. thus, any suggestions from this blog's vast readership [6-7 people?] on how this can be best accomplished would be appreciated.)

but after you've have cut up the meat (or bought it ground up,) just cook it in a pan to your liking, (preferably a bit rare,) and then let it cool some before adding in everything. i tried to follow penn's recipe, but it wasn't salty enough for me, so i added a little extra fish sauce, and of course, i added msg. (see the above picture, which was posed just for this blog.)

here's what you add and the amount:
lime juice (she says 2 table spoons for a lb of beef. i would put more than that...
salt and fish sauce (1/2 tsp, 1 and 1/2 respectively... or more.)
hot chilli pepper - as much as you can stand
kalanga powder (you can buy it at the asian store. or just get the fresh kind and use a lot of it.)
lime leafs - finely minced. penn says use two.
i like padek, (a good spoonful or two), but penn says nothing about it.
then a tablespoon of rice powder. (see page 113 for directions on how to do this, or read below.)
the rice powder (khao khoua) is pretty easy to come by: get some uncooked sticky rice (would somebody clarify this: when making it, don't you just use the glutinous rice - not the regular white jasmine rice?) then you'll want to "fry" it in a sauce pan till its rather dark and brown, stirring and shaking it constantly or it will burn real bad. either way, its gonna smoke a lot, so disconnect your fire alarm. then after it's cooled, pound it with your mortar and pestle (khok and sak) till you get a nice powder - kinda grayish brown lookin.
then after mixing all the above, add your herbs: scallion, mint, and Lao cilantro (tui says this is the essential secret to good laap, along with fresh galanga.) its smaller and almost dill-lookin.

i would also point out that with penn's recipe book, she once again shows that she really is making her recipes suitable to the delicate tastes of white people. i mean, she doesn't put anything in there that you'd expect to find in real laap. laap is really a repository for anything and everything from the cow. it's full of innards and squiggly pieces of meat that give it texture and flavor. but i am fine with the omission of all of that. plain beef is fine with me, although there is this one loopy-loops innard piece of the cow that i kinda like, but i don't know exactly what it is, and when eating real Lao laap, i've always been a little hesitant separate it out, hold it up in the air, and ask the cook, "an nii menh nhang?" see the above picture for what laap is kinda supposed to look like.

mine didn't turn out too well though. i used mint growing in the flower box under my living room window, and it gave it a slight dirt/pesticide flavor. additionally, i forgot to soak the sticky rice, so i had to eat my laap with jasmine. not my favorite way to do it, but oh well. stir-fried some vegetables and chicken, and there you go... i got them flowers from the neighbor's front lawn.


i am sure i am missing something here, so feel free to add your comments and suggestions.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

ketsana

in late september, the typhoon ketsana hit the philippines and went on to hit vietnam, Laos and cambodia. see pictures below from vietnam, the philippines, and cambodia.





for the link to more photos:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/09/typhoon_ketsana_ondoy.html
here is the poster advertising an event organized to assist victims of the typhoon:

to donate, please contact unicef.

Friday, October 30, 2009

time to be counted...


the census is coming up in 2010 and so are the informational posters at my work! here are a couple of myths about the census for those of you that are afraid to be counted. they're followed by the "truth" or the way it really is...



ps. i did make some lap from the cook book, but i gotta get the pictures loaded online here and then i will post...!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

ps...

i'm adding a post script to my last post cause i am worried there's people out there making curry and its turning out really really bad. so ima go a little deeper with this. first, these are the specific ingredients that i used (and that i didn't show pictures of before:)the red curry paste

fish sauce - see my previous post about why i like three crabs the best.

coconut milk

sliced bamboo

the thai egg plant


and another note on the bamboo: i usually use the whole bamboo out of the can and cut it myself. it tastes better. but the sliced one is good if you don't have a lot of time. but make sure you rinse it thoroughly, or it'll have that been-in-a-can-for-way-too-long taste to it.

also, if you live in jonesville louisiana and you can't find these items in your local grocery market, you can order them at grocerythai.com!

also, i had one reader that commented to me privately that broccoli should not be put in red curry. "i've never seen that before," were her exact words. i encouraged her to comment on this in the comment section of the blog, but alas... well, i haven't seen it before either i guess, but it sure tastes good when i use it. i always laughed at the people that used carrots, cause i just think that that's gross, but i have definitely seen carrots more times than broccoli... just not in my curry.

feel free to weigh in on this!

Friday, October 09, 2009

racebending

so in case you don't know the background: the producers of avatar the last airbender have cast white kids in asian roles in the big screen adaptation of this "beloved" japanese cartoon. and the director is none other than m. night 6th sense. (this casting practice apparently draws a bigger crowd than if we were to watch asian kids in the big screen portrayal. in fact, you may not know this, but they almost hired an all-white cast for crouching tiger, hidden dragon.) the only asian in the film is slumdog patellionaire, and he is playing the bad guy. (and he was a late casting pick. originally, jesse mccartney was slated to play this part! and jesse is really white. in fact, if you look up "white" in the online dictionary, you'll see his picture. and for those of you that are thinking, "ha ha, you're joke isn't very original," i answer- it isn't original because it's not a joke. check out the link at dictionary.com
here is a website with more details about this and other examples of racebending. it's called racebending.com (of course.)
they're holding a forum here locally (see below) on oct 15th at the ethnic cultural center just off the uw campus - from 4-5 pm. might be worth checking out.


thanks ben for keeping us all aware.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

red curry

i picked this recipe because i've made it the most. i began making red curry years ago, but i've made major adjustments over the years. i first learned from a woman in porterville, california, but i lost that original recipe- so when i got this Lao cookbook, this was the first recipe i tried - and now i pretty much have it memorized.

but i make adjustments from the cookbook as well: penn makes her red curry with green beans, bamboo, and purple eggplant. i chose thai eggplant, green, red and yellow peppers, and broccoli - i like how broccoli soaks up the curry. but really you can put anything; i've seen pumpkin and pineapple, potatoes and carrots, peas and squash. in the picture to the right you can see the lemon grass stalks and the basil (looking kinda lazy and tired).

but for sure you need:
curry paste
chicken
salt
sugar
msg
fish sauce
lime leaves, (bai khiihout)
galanga (kha) - see picture to the right
lemon grass (houa sing khai)
green onions
basil (boua lapha)

here's the basics of what i do:
i cook about 2/3 of the curry paste (i buy maesri, the small can) in the pan with 4-5 tablespoons of oil until it starts getting brown and gives off that strong mace-like smell that stings your eyes and throat; this gets rid of that weird taste of the curry. penn asks for olive oil in all her recipes, but that's just weird. i go for something a little less healthy (and a better taste - like vegetable or canola oil. i would use lard if i had easy access.) and if your paste starts getting dry, just add more oil. more is more.

then add the chicken - cut in strips, however much you want. cook for a bit and then add two cans of coconut milk. i don't like it too thick, so i always add a can or two of water. penn says nothing about this, but whatever, it's a free country. mae sou (the woman that taught me how to make curry so many years ago) told me to cook the coconut milk for a while until the oil starts to come out... but i've never known what she was talking about, so i gave up this step in november of 2002, but she said it was really important so i mention it here.

then i add in the lime leaves (penn says 3, i say more, cause the owner of the local Lao store told me more is more,) lemon grass (couple of stalks chopped in long stems so nobody accidentally tries to eat them - if you're cooking for whiteys that don't know better) and galanga - 3-4 slices (same thing about cutting 'em big; although my former roommate liked to chew on a sliver every so often.) but if you don't have all this, don't worry about it... its for flavoring and its all included in the curry paste anyway, so its not a necessity; i think the lime leaves (see insert) is the most significant addition, and its usually found in the freezer of the asian store. just ask the friendly cashier at your local market.

then put in the fish sauce, salt and sugar. this is the key. gotta get this right... i say about 4 tablespoons of fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon of salt, 3 tbs of sugar, and a teaspoon or so of msg. but really you just need to taste it. you want it saltier than what you may normally prefer because you're gonna serve it on rice and it'll dilute the flavor. and if you don't like fish sauce, you can substitute salt... but if you don't like fish sauce, go to some other blog, you're wasting your time here.

then cook in all your additions - and turn off the heat and stir in the green onion (several stalks cut in 1 inch pieces) and basil (the leaves removed from the stem - about half cup? whatever you want.)

then serve over jasmine rice.

i made this with a group of friends at fhe, so this ain't my kitchen. my kitchen ain't this nice... so i had some help gettin things cut up and put in the pan. also, sorry for the ugly washed-out photos; i used my cell phone camera. and i usually like a "redder" curry - but i didn't put that much paste in cause some people couldn't eat spicy. the other problem is that i made more than normal, so i struggled to get the flavor right. you'd think that after all these years i could make a perfect curry, but there is something genetic about this... and in the end, i am still white.
i would rate this recipe for yall... but because i made so many changes, i can't. maybe when i start getting into new territory.

Monday, September 28, 2009

jrm and penn


so i will start this by hesitatingly admitting that i went to see the movie "julie and julia" last month. and it made me really hungry. but because we went to see it so late, there wasn't nothing open except red robin once we exited the theatre, so i ended up eating some burger and feeling some kinda sick (which was not the feeling i was aniticipating.)

but if you've seen the movie already, then you know what i'm talking about. (and even though the film seems to be marketed for women, i have been amazed by how many men have gone to see it and have come out just as hungry as i did.) the one complaint i will make: too many of the critics focused too much on the disparity between julie powell's depiction and the depiction of julia childs'.
(see the seattle times, the stranger) but they're just haters - talking about how amy adams was boring and meryl streep was incredible. i mean, streep is playing the part of this (kinda freakishly) eccentric woman, so obviously her part is going to be more memorable. so i say: amy, you did a great job and let me know if you got some free time to hang out on friday. i am available around 6 pm, but i am gonna be trying to go see 'capitalism: a love story' for the late show, so we can't hang out too long.

but here is the real point of this post: julie powell inspired me.

i now have access to a kitchen of suitable proportions, and i have this Lao cookbook that i have only used to make the same 3 recipes over and over again. (i will explain more about this later posts.) so i am ready to put myself out there for the challenge: ima bouts to make every recipe in the whole cookbook.

but i aint gonna do nothing like finish it in a year, but i will finish it... (i need to stop eating out so much anyway.) but don't worry, i will continue to post links to articles about vang pao and thuggin it in baton rouge, since that's why everyone (nobody) comes to my blog anyway. but now i will have a new feature called, jrm and penn (the author of the aforementioned cookbook.) you can get it on amazon, so feel free to follow... we can work our way through the green pages (all the pages in the book are inexplicably green!!!) together.

Monday, September 21, 2009

vang pao means free


i was kinda surprised to open my newspaper on saturday and find a little blurb about vang pao again. in case you aren't aware of him, look at my previous posts.

i thought he was gone away forever, but alas... he pulled through again! here's an article from the la times.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-vang-pao19-2009sep19,0,4697860.story

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Laos and china: bffs


the chinese chairman was overheard telling keobounphanh, "as long we get to cut down your forests and jungles and you keep letting us take all the wood for ourselves, then we'll be friends forever!"

See the article:

http://nexinhuanet.com/english/2009-09/02ws./content_11985806.htm

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

asians raging about a seattle weekly article

http://www.seattleweekly.com/2009-08-05/news/ragin-asians/1

above is a link to an article entitled, "seattle's raging asians," found in the seattle weekly, one of seattle's alternative newspapers. the writer, erika hobart, pens a heartless, unsympathetic and even down-right mean-spirited depiction of asian night life here in the pacific northwest. to her credit, she doesn't miss a beat in describing the manic pointlessness of it all, but i'm guessing that her "subjects" had no idea that she'd depict them in such a fashion. i heard that she is half-asian and half-white and so you'd expect she'd have more insight into the circumstances of these 20-somethings; but i doubt she is southeast asian and maybe that's part of the problem. hobart only gives a cursory explanation (and replete with stereotypes about strict parental expectations) to this phenomenon that is found in seattle, and she also ignores the fact that this behavior can be found in all ethnic minority groups and in the majority white population as well.

her quotation from a viet promoter that asians travel around in schools "like neon tetra fish" only exposes the ignorance of the whole article: for the most part, what ethnic group doesn't travel around in packs??? whites hang with whites, asians with asians, blacks with blacks. thus when examined from a broader perspective, the article is as pointlessness as these kids' drinking. hobart uses some smart, clever metaphors - but the article ends up too full-of-itself; rather than saying anything important or revealing about asians and their nightlife, the author just drones on with her condemnatory recitation of these kids' night out. the whole thing seems like one big ego-stroke for the writer: "look at these pathetic people pissing in parking lots and getting blindingly drunk; i am SO glad i am not one of them." yeah, i must say, ms. hobart is pretty durn mean.

but who am i to comment on this? (haha!) i am just a white guy. but read the comment section - some people probably have smarter things to say about this subject than i do.

but considering how many people are undoubtedly upset by her article, ms. hobart should probably park her car in the garage to avoid getting her tires slashed... at least for the time being - until most of the seattle weeklys containing her forgettable article are either recycled or end up in the landfill.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Laos in time


an article from time magazine about the wonders of vang vieng - the small riverside town that (depending on what time of year you go) has more europeans wandering its streets than Lao people. i don't have statistics on that - just an observation. see link below:


http://www.time.com/time/travel/article/0,31542,1913389,00.html?cnn=yes

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

chinese comments

due to the numerous comments in chinese that i have received regarding my most interesting post, "baton rouge is thuggin' it," i am finally adding word verification to my blog. (after 3 + years of easy commenting, the good ol' days are over.) here is an example of one of the 10 comments i received:

anonymous said...
michael jackson(麥可傑克森)你永遠是我的最愛

michael jackson,麥可傑克森

瑜珈,看護,旅遊

保健,蛋糕,服飾

網路,資訊,花園

法拍屋,隔熱紙

達人,精品,整形

科技,天空,飛翔

蝸牛,不孕,汽車

i don't read, speak, or understand chinese, but with the name "michael jackson" stuck up in there, i kinda think that this comment has nothing to do with "baton rouge is thuggin' it" at all.

Friday, July 24, 2009

baton rouge is thuggin' it...


my hometown is the setting for the home-made-looking "thuggin' it and lovin' it in baton rouge" dvd that's hit the streets and is causing some controversy. controversy for the police that the people in the video are shooting off guns "that even the police don't use," and controversy for the residents that baton rouge is presented in a bad light. the media group (and i use that term loosely) that made the video claims that the people in the video are just actors... but more on that to come. watch this clip on the br news website:

http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/50844642.html

Saturday, July 04, 2009

happy fourth of july, people


happy independence day. this is a good day for all americans. fireworks, bbqs, and sleeping-in. hooray.

now take this little quiz. do you know as much about our great country as a naturalized citizen?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25461301/?GT1=43001

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

thai ginger: serving more than just red curry for 15 years


one of the comments on this article said, "i'll have an order of pad yhai and a bride to go, please."

seattle's thai ginger restaurant's owner has been arranging sham marriages between its employees and thai citizens wanting to get green cards. i don't know if i've ever eaten at thai ginger, but now i gots to. if their food is as creative as this scheme, its gotta be good. here is the link to the article, and once again, the comment section is always colorful:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2009373478_webthaiginger23m.html

jacob - you may just need to be a contributer to my blog... it would cut out the middle man.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

ny times article: Lao and thai food



here is the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/dining/17larb.html?_r=2&ref=dining

and thanks to jacob for sending this to me, and for his astute observation that, "unfortunately they say nothing about padek."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

a round of applause for the white people

i was invited by the farrar family for dinner on sunday for a curry festival. everyone brought a curry dish of some sort (and mine is the one in the bottom-most picture with the basil swimming around on top.) i was pretty durn amazed at what everyone came up with. there was some good food!




as we were contemplating the success of different dishes, and i proposed "a round of applause for the white people," someone pointed out that unlike some countries that really stick to their own dishes and diets, americans -without a cuisine they can call their own- have gotten pretty good at borrowing (or if you want to get cynical: stealing) recipes from the rest of the world. to this someone else added, "yeah, its not like you see people in other countries making tuna casserole." but as mom farrar put it: "who would want to eat tuna casserole? even i don't want to eat tuna casserole."

Monday, June 01, 2009

Lao vs. Laotian

i just finished reading this discussion on lonely planet's website (see link). which is it, Lao or Laotian?

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/message.jspa?messageID=15723942

i always felt that the word "Laotian" referred to any person, thing, food, etc, from Laos - and that it was meant to refer to these things in the broader sense. additionally, the term seems useful in that it differentiates from a specific reference to the ethnic Lao people/language.

for example, most hmong people in the usa would fall under the category of Laotian (in the sense that they may be refugees from Laos) but would not fall under the category of Lao (in that Lao is a specific reference to a specific people, language that makes up the majority population in the country of Laos.)

also, certain foods maybe consider Laotian dishes, but may not be an actual dish of the lowland Lao people.

any comments on this? when i tell people i speak another language, i almost always say "i speak Lao." and i use the word Laotian for clarification purposes only. the word Laotian does seem to be a western invention - i've never heard it used in Laos. although the Lao government does have certain words in place to assist in developing a greater "Laotian" identity... (the terms Lao loum, Lao theung, and Lao soung, would be examples but i will save that for another post.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

death penalty



this uk woman was jailed in Laos back in August for drug smuggling... and somehow she is now 5 months pregnant. (and she could possibly face execution, although with international pressure, that is seeming much less likely now.) as the title of the linked article says, this really calls Laos's criminal justice system into question. apparently, Laos officials are opening an investigation into how exactly she got pregnant (something the rest of us learned in 6th grade health class, or from our parents if we were lucky,) and are continuing to insist that she wasn't raped or impregnated by a guard, but that she was already pregnant back when she was jailed, or some immaculate conception kinda thing...

this is kinda old news now, so many of you have probably already heard about this. several articles were posted about it; the most recent saying that the uk will bring her home to serve out her sentence there. here are some links:

this is the older link - from cnn:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/04/laos.british.woman.drugs.trial/index.html

the more recent link that i referenced above:
http://www.worldlatestnews.com/world-news/pregnant-british-inmate-puts-laos-justice-system-on-trial

Monday, May 11, 2009

what went wrong with the definition of Lao?

this is from the webster's dictionary.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lao

Lao pronunciation: \ˈlau\
function: noun inflected form(s): plural Lao or Laos \ˈlauz\
date: 1808 1 : a member of a buddhist people living in Laos and adjacent parts of northeastern thailand 2 : the thai language of the Lao people — Lao adjective

Lao is not a "thai language of the Lao people"

Lao is the "official language of the country of Laos"

oh well.

(thanks to chaleurn for sending this to me. i have heard of Lao and thai described in academic settings as part of the tai linguistic family, but i've never heard Lao described as a "thai language of the Lao people.") comments?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

uncovering the past...


not my tagline, but from the article. see the preview below and then read the article, linked here: seattle times article link - click here!.