Category Archives: Lao

Monthly Rice Field Photo #5 – April

April Rice Field by sjzwier
April Rice Field, a photo by sjzwier on Flickr.

So, I forgot to take a rice field photo for March, but really March looked a lot like February. You didn’t miss much.

Now it’s pretty exciting because the rains have started. It’s not raining everyday and never all day, but just enough to get a some water into this field. People are starting to plant corn in their upland fields.

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Monthly Rice Field Photo #4 – February

This photo was taken on February 16th.

More Rice Harvest Pictures

 

collecting the rice stems into a stack with the rice ends in the center

 

 

another rice stack

 

 

cut rice stems drying before being collected into a stack

 

 

fresh rice

 

Monthly Rice Field Photo #1 – harvest time

I’m planning to take a post a photo of this paddy rice field every month for the next year. I hope this will give you a better idea of how the seasons change in Laos and how rice is grown. Usually people plant rice at the beginning of the rainy season, in May or June. Then the rice grows until October or November when it is dry and ready to be harvested. When the rice is planted, the fields are full of water, maybe 6 inches deep, but by the end of the rice season, the fields are dry. In Laos all of this is done by hand, so it’s a lot of work, although some families do have threshing machines for processing rice after the harvest.

So now we’re at the beginning of the dry season and everyone is harvesting their rice. James co-workers are busy in the fields when they’re not at work. Our house helper has taken the week off to harvest upland rice with her family. A friend invited us to harvest rice with her family this Saturday, but that’s already a busy day for us. I’d like to help sometime though so that I can better understand what harvesting is like. I’ve heard it’s really hard work. I have a feeling I wouldn’t actually be much help having never done it before!

In the picture at the top, you can see that some of the rice has already been cut on the right side of the photo. It’s put in bundles and laid on top of the rice stems. After the field has been cut, the harvesters will collect the rice into a large stack until they thresh the rice to get the grains out (usually with a machine). I hope I can get a picture of a rice stack.

Here you can see people harvesting (you may need to click on the picture to see it bigger):

More Rice Harvest Pictures

Monthly Rice Field Photo #2

Honeycomb and Bee Larvae

Last week, our house helper was clearing some brush in front of our house when she found a beehive! Since eating larvae of ants, wasps, and bees is common in Laos, she brought this in for us to eat. I asked her how to cook it, but didn’t really understand her answer. I thought that you fried larvae, but she said no, these are too small and soft for that. She said that Lao people often steam them, but I don’t have a steamer. She also said you can bake them, so that’s what I ended up doing. She mentioned something about washing something, but I didn’t quite catch it. Maybe she was describing how to get the larvae out of the comb. Continue reading

Iced Hibiscus Tea – Agua de Flor de Jamaica

I first encountered this drink in the Yucatan province of Mexico. It was called “Jamaica” and I loved how refreshing it was on a hot day. It was available at almost every restaurant and I drank it at every chance. Although it’s a tea, it tastes more like a juice. Jamaica is pronounced “Ha-mike-ah”  and the name of the drink comes from the Spanish word for hibiscus, Flor de Jamaica (flower of Jamaica).

I was so excited come across this drink again in Laos. We were eating lunch at the Vang Vieng Organic Farm and they served us some of this juice. Since then, we’ve discovered that one of James’ co-workers grows this flower on her small farm. So now we have access to an unlimited supply! The Lao name for this drink is “nam som podee” – which means “sour juice, just right”. Some people also call it “nam krajiab” which is the Thai name. Continue reading

Fish Amok from Cambodia

This past January, James and I took a trip to Cambodia because he had some work to do there. We added on a short vacation since we’d never been there before. While we were in Phnom Penh, we took one day cooking class at The Frizz restaurant. We’ve found that cooking classes are a great way to learn about food and culture in a new place. In some ways this class was similar to the class that James took at Tamarind in Luang Prabang, Laos.

First we went to a market. I wasn’t so excited about that part because I had already seen that market and markets in Cambodia are not all that different from markets in Laos. I did see some interesting things there though that I haven’t seen at my local market – salted duck eggs and many more kinds of fish than in Laos. Salted duck eggs are covered in black ashes as part of the preserving process. You can see what it looks like here. Our guide said when she feels sick, she likes to eat these eggs with rice. That’s about the last thing I’d want to eat when I’m feeling sick, but I suppose different cultures have different comfort foods! Continue reading