Laos: Diet

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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The Lao are not bread-eaters, and do not normally use dairy products. Their staple foods are rice (especially sticky or glutinous rice), fish (of which they have a very abundant supply in their rivers, ponds, and irrigated fields), padek (a kind of fermented fish sauce with chunks of fish in it), meat of all kinds (including, for example, that of water-monitors), ducks, chicken, vegetables, and fresh fruits. They enjoy feasts, but generally eat in moderation. In the countryside they can garner almost everything they need, and need only to cultivate rice. For many Lao, such items as meat, ducks, and chicken are luxuries. But nutritional requirements which would be satisfied by these foods are partly met by their use of padek, an important supplementary source of protein.