Sep 26, 2007

Kai Yo Ma, (eggs of horse)

What’s a Wat doing on a blog entry about rotten eggs? I just liked the way it looked, and I haven’t used this photo before. Photos of rotten eggs aren’t so inviting.

The wat has a tin roof but still has the tiered parts at the top. If I knew anything about wats I could probably say this is Thai Lu style or something. I like the wat in that it has nought to do with being an attraction yet. It was a quiet day, no one about. I walked behind it to do the first of two river crossings to get to the crags at the far side of the valley. Lot of kids playing in the river, a few people washing clothes.

I sure didn’t see any kai yo ma in Muang Long. There were Chinese people there and if you want kai you ma you have to have Chinese people, it’s Chinese food.

I looked all over the market for one of those tin cups with a lid that you see all over China. I was about to head out for a walk and wanted something to make my morning coffee in. A lot of the traders were recent immigrants from China. I finally found a porcelain cup with a broken handle and asked one of the vendors how much, he just gave it to me.

I like Chinese people, not just because they give me things for free, but because of the way they are. They push. they shout, they spit, they bargain hard. Sometimes the sound of Mandarin is music to my ears. People say Chinese food is swimming in oil, well so it is, tastes great. The Chinese are gregarious, and you could never have a better friend.

I learned to eat kai you ma in China. I used to live in a town that was in it’s infancy as far as being on the tourist trail. That part of China had just recently opened up to foreign travel. I too was in my infancy of learning foreign languages and of living in Asia. I was still eating at restaurants that had English menus. Regardless of the menu, the restaurants were frequented by the Chinese. I saw someone eating the eggs and asked for the same. They were pretty good. Later I asked some friends and they got some for me. I was astonished when I saw the outside.

Notice the grey looking stuff on the outside? I was told that’s caked on ashes. The story goes that the reason they are called horse eggs is that they are made by caking them in straw ashes that has been wetted with horse piss. Certainly an evocative origin for something that smells like death warmed over.

I took this picture in Luang Namtha at the well stocked market there. They look just like the eggs I used to eat in Yunnan and they tasted like them too. Fairly mild and a yellow tending to green in colour on the inside. Delicious.

Remember my qualifier. I won’t eat any food that doesn’t taste good to me at the time I eat it. I know often Lao people don’t eat these eggs, I assume it’s because they weren’t brought up eating them. New things are difficult even for a people who eat padek.

These eggs are like the kind I found in Taiwan and are the only kind I’ve been able to find in America. They are pretty strong. I wash the outsides off with water and that seems to kill some of the sulphurous odour. I also eat them with a sauce made of nam sii you, macpet, and cilantro. The chillies are actually that sauce you make by toasting dried chillies in oil. And of course I use kao neeow to scoop them up with.

Sun Saap


Anonymous said...

Lao people do eat them. My family eat them all the time back in Laos and here in the States as well.

I love the architecture of the various monasteries also. They are so beautiful.

Does these Tai Lue people speak Lao? and do you understand them? I know sometime various accent is difficult to understand sometime.

I tried to read up on ethnic Lao in China as much as I can wherever I find them or come across. But I can't find much info on them.


Somchai said...

In China I believe the people who speak a language similar to Lao, Thai, and Thai Lue are called Dai, in Sipsongbana, or as the Chinese say Xishuanbana. When I was in Yunnan I was far north of there and so only passed through later on the bus once. The wats are similar and they do celebrate Pi Mai.

I think the dialect Thai Lue speak is much closer to Lao than to anything else. I understand about ten percent and guess at the rest, just like I do with regular Lao. Sometimes if I don’t listen I suddenly realize that I just got a hundred percent. I wish those times were more often.

I think that ethnically the Thai Lue are so similar to regular Lowland Lao (Lao Loum) that they are counted the same for census statistics, whereas the Thai Dam or Thai Daeng are more often grouped with Lao Theung, total supposition on my part.

About the eggs, I seem to remember hearing about my grandfather in law sending the kids down to buy kai yo ma when they used to live close to dalat sii kahm whatever it is, close to downtown Vientiane. I like the kind covered with ashes but usually find the pink ones too strong. If I’m in the mood ok, otherwise I pass. I wish I could find the ones with the ashes here in the US, guess I’ll have to learn how to make them.

Craig said...

You need to change the white balance when taking photos under this artificial light source. They look yellow when they shouldn't.
Experiment to fine the best WB mode on your camera, "Tungsten" etc.


Somchai said...

Thank You, I will. I’ll try reading the manual, it seems to be either this light bulb icon or very a very blue looking normal. The light is compact florescent, those energy savers. Need your full sized sensor for the light from the window eh? Don’t have too much fun and watch your stuff. Same problems on the Yam Salat post.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop posting such themes. I like to read articles like that. BTW add some pics :)