Like many others, one of the things I most look forward to when traveling to exotic locations, is the local cuisine. I always try to sample a nation’s well known dishes, as well as their lesser known ones. Far from home, the food can be challenging, comforting, and humbling. But even so, after just a few days of authentic food, all I want is a sinful pizza or burger or pasta. What is it about these kinds of meals that grab a hold of you and why do I feel so guilty indulging?
While traveling through Laos last week, quite probably my favorite country to visit out of all the countries that I have been to so far, I was struck by how ubiquitous the pizza, burger and pasta menu is. Laos food is simple, fresh and delicious and I love how good it makes me feel. I am no food scientist, but it’s possible the free range and organic ingredients are the culprits. Almost every restaurant offers local Laos fare as well as pizzas, burgers and pastas. It is the norm. These reproductions are not amazing, but really not bad…considering that those who cook them have probably never eaten the real thing. The locals do not eat our foods.
It may seem odd to cater to the whims of the Western tourist at every restaurant on the main streets of Laos, but I do take pleasure from the fact that there are no McDonald’s, KFC or Pizza Hut “restaurants” in the entire country. There are no big players in Laos.
I sincerely hope it stays this way.
Even so, I’m not proud to admit that the first meal I ate when we flew to Thailand from Laos was a Burger King Whopper (with bacon and cheese) at Chiang Mai airport.
Fast food. It gets under your skin. Photoshopped images, loads of salt, hardly food, free range and organic usually out the door. So far removed from traditional Laos and Thai cuisine.
Naturally, I found this appropriation of fast food photos quite amusing. This was a sign for a restaurant in Vang Vieng, Laos, where fast food does not exist. Do the photos look familiar?