When traveling the world, it allows me to broaden my understanding of the interrelationship between culture and food.
People rely on food, air and water to survive.
Food brings nutrients, flavor, conversation, emotions and memories.
In Toronto, Canada where I have called home for many years, fresh fruit and vegetable are home grown and imported. A glance of the produce in my local supermarket informs me that we import a lot from the United States of America, South America and some Asian countries. More so the case during the winter months. We label them conventional or organic.This is not the case when I travel in South America and Asia. They eat home grown fruits and vegetables. There’s no signage to separate out the conventional and the organically grown produce. Most locals prefer to shop daily in a fresh or wet market and only visit a supermarket for hard goods.
From the days of shopping in the fresh markets in Hong Kong with my mom as a child, I have always carried that curiosity and love of food wherever I am visiting. Thanks to my mom, I love eating odd-looking tropical fruits. Even when they look more like the spawn of an alien life form than food – sorry rambutan, you are sweet and delicious in my book!
When I arrived in Luang Prabang alone, it was late in the day and I had only 3 full days to do what I wanted to do. What with a long row of transport drivers offering local tours to the waterfall and other nearby hot spots for tourism. Decisions had to be made.
One of my best decisions while in Luang Prabang was to wake up early to witness the local Buddhist monks collect alms at 5am. This happens every day – rain or shine. The rice and food offering is prepared fresh that morning. Some tourists bought from local vendors and participated in the morning ritual while others, like myself, maintained a respectful distance and photographed the procession.
The second best decision was to visit the famous morning market afterwards. Yes, people buy their groceries that early in the morning!
I must say, it is one of the cleanest and best looking fresh market I have been to in my life, so far. None of the hollering that’s typically associated with Chinese fresh or wet markets. Everyone is pleasant. Few sell from a permanent market stall. The products are organized neatly, and without the clearly posted prices, it encourages interactions with the seller.
There is a bit of everything – I mean everything! Fresh fruits. Fresh vegetables. Fresh meat. Cooked food stalls. Fresh desserts. House wares. Live poultry. Fresh seafood. Oh and there were many different types of insects – cooked and alive.
With these kinds of fresh ingredients, don’t you wonder what their cuisine look like and how it tastes?? Stay tuned for Part 2!!