Lao Character and Culture Distilled into Whisky
It goes without saying that whenever one visits another culture, country or continent, foods and eating habits are one of the first noticeable differences. Khiri Travel Laos is a strong advocate of showing visitors the character of the ‘real Lao life’ and therefore we often bring or encourage travelers to visit local markets or restaurants serving Lao food.
At the Khiri office itself, locals and expatriates work closely together and subsequently learn about each other’s culture. During the Friday afternoon weekly review meetings in the local beer garden, hilarious situations involving Lao food often arise, mainly with falang (foreigner) newbies. And that’s when you will experience the difference between local food and local food.
One example of these local food experiences is called leaud paeng ped. This is a ‘soup’ of 100% goat or duck blood, lightly garnished with some herbs and fried onions. Tradition has it that this dish is often consumed by locals after having a motorbike accident, so it might be assumed to act as a tonic to restore health to mind and body.
In sharp contrast, another local specialty called Lao Khao, or Lao Lao has quite the opposite effect. Due to this local whiskey’s high percentage of alcohol, consuming this stiff drink often goes hand in hand with having a headache the next day. Lao Lao, however, considered a source of local pride, is a much more fun choice than other spirits since it is crafted at the homes of local families.
Lao Lao whiskey contains about 40% alcohol, although the strength differs depending on the degree of fermentation. The oddly repetitive name, Lao Lao, seems like baby talk for an adult beverage. However, to a Lao speaker, the words actually have different tones and thus different meanings. The first Lao means ‘alcohol’ while the second means Laotion.
The whiskey is brewed by fermenting rice for several days. This suspension is then boiled in a condenser and filtered of impurities. Aside from the rather unique but questionable taste, it is the personalized care in the production of every single bottle that makes drinking it enjoyable. Their whiskey product is their mark of pride and demonstrates an important character trait of the Lao people to take good care of that which one values. This aspect of Lao culture is evident in many other situations that your clients will encounter with the friendly and hospitable Lao people.
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