Nov 21, 2006


Fresh Organic Beef
Unlike buying meat at a supermarket, buying at “the market” is a different experience. Up close the smell is the same as when you have an elk half butchered and lots of pieces about. The best description is simply fresh meat. Lots of flies yes, and left over stinks from days gone by, but up close the only smell is freshness.

There is no meat processing industry that I know of in Laos. I see a lot of cows wandering around, and often I hear the sound of pigs that people are raising. Chickens everyone knows about. An oft heard complaint of tourists is the crowing at all hours of the day, and night. There are chickens that are supposed to be “from the factory” but in reality I don’t worry too much about them being the processed variety as I’m used to in the US. Legs are strong, and fat is minimal, oh, and price is high.

2$ for a small chicken, beef for around 3$ a kilo and pork a little over $2 a kilo. Eggs are eight or nine cents a piece depending on size. Protein is pricey, not that much less than at home. No wonder that for many meat is a luxury, and quite a few people spend a lot of time fishing.

In this first photo you can see Sengthian gingerly picking through the meat. This is what is left of a cow. We are searching for back straps although in truth the beef isn’t that tender. Tasty yes but not tender. You can see tails in front of the saleslady’s knife, and if you look carefully a couple of tongues behind Sengthian’s hand.

If at first the photo above has brought forth the yuck factor great. A more careful look though and you can see some prime ingredients for typical dishes. In the first photo you can see this platter in the background. Starting at the six and seven o’clock positions are two kinds of stomach, then a round piece of I don’t know what then the large intestines filled with pia, the juice often used in lap or gaeng kuhung nai, that strong beef soup, then small intestines and finally another I don’t know.

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