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food / travel

Extreme Fooding: A Visitor From Laos Compares His Nation's Exotic Eats To China's

Cobras and scorpions, centipedes and seahorses on bamboo sticks are among the things you never thought you'd taste. A Laotian in Beijing compares two of the world's more "out there" eating experiences.

Wangfujing night market in the center of Beijing
Wangfujing night market in the center of Beijing
Souksakhone Vaenkeo

BEIJING -Coming from a country where some people eat poisonous cobra, centipedes and toads, and having heard that the Chinese eat everything that flies except airplanes, everything with four legs except tables and everything that swims except submarines, I wanted to establish who eats stranger food, the Lao or the Chinese?

Wandering around Wangfujing night market in the center of Beijing, I was amazed by the odd creatures that people were eating. Street sellers were selling things that people would normally never want in their mouths. They were tempting tourists with barbecued scorpions and centipedes on sticks.

Although we Lao also eat poisonous insects, they're not that common since it's only the elderly who know how to prepare them. Even so, there are communities in Laos that add insects to their bottles of rice wine believing, despite the lack of evidence, that the alcohol is good for them.

They also flavor their rice wine with herbs, wild animals' bile, or a mix of poisonous animals like cobras, centipedes and scorpions.

Personally, I've never tried these strange foods, but my friend Phonsavanh Sangsomboun, who used to eat cobra salad, told me that such concoctions are popular with the elderly people in his central Laos hometown.

I'll have the cobra salad

The people believed that toxins from different poisonous animals will eliminate poison itself. "But I never drink that kind of alcohol since I am still young. It's a drink for old people, but I did used to eat cobra salad," my friend said.

He said that cobra, wasn't as tasty as the non-poisonous snakes. My uncle even says that he eats cobra salad to relieve pain in his muscles. It's a skill to cook these strange foods; in order to cook cobra salad, for example, you need to remove the poison.

Bile-infused spirits and cobra salads aren't exactly on sale in the shops. The alcohol is a more welcoming gift that Lao offer to visitors.

For those unfamiliar with Indochinese cuisine, Wangfujing's scorpions, centipedes and seahorses on bamboo sticks must seem extraordinary.

"We never eat seahorses. We only put dry ones inside our house because they're believed to bring us good luck. Some jewelry shop owner put them inside their shops because they're supposed to bring in customers," said my shocked Filipino colleague Darwin Wally T. Wee.

And the starfish? "In our place, only kids play with them. We'd never eat them."

Read the original article in The Economic Observer

Photo - Urban Capture

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

And If Ukraine's Fate Was In The Hands Of Republican Senators And Viktor Orban?

In the U.S., Republican senators called on to approve military aid to Kyiv are blackmailing the Biden administration on an unrelated matter. In Europe, French President Macron will be dining with the Hungarian Prime Minister, who has threatened to block aid to Ukraine as well.

photo of viktor orban walking into a room

Orban will play all his cards

Sergei Savostyanov/TASS via ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — Make no mistake: military aid to Ukraine is at risk. And to understand why, just take a look at the name of French President Emmanuel Macron’s dinner guest Thursday at the Elysée palace in Paris: Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Prime Minister, and Europe’s No. 1 troublemaker.

Orban is threatening to veto a new 50 billion euro aid package for Ukraine at a European Council meeting next week. He could also block Ukraine’s negotiations to enter the European Union, an important issue that has provided some hope for this war-torn country. These are votes on which the unanimity of the "27" EU member states is required.

But this is not the only obstacle in the path of Western aid: the United States is also immersed in a political psychodrama, of which Ukraine is the victim. A new $60 billion aid package from the Biden administration has stalled in Congress: Republicans are demanding legislation to shut down the border with Mexico to stop immigration.

What does this have to do with Ukraine? Nothing, besides legislative blackmail.

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