Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Laos, March 30th 2003

Another trip to memory land... this one to my first L country: Laos.  My email distribution list was getting bigger and interestingly even though it was in Italian there were a few Americans who were hoping to learn the language. Here is the translation of the email I sent on March 31st 2003:

"After a few weeks of culinary silence, primarily due to the fact that I joined Weight Watchers, I finally prepared a nice Laotian dinner.... I am not even sure this is correct (I do know it's correct in English but the way I translated it in Italian might have been a fruit of my imagination) and if any of you know the correct form to say "from Laos" in Italian, please let me know.

I've finally received my travel permit from the immigration department so I might be able to host one of these dinners in Italy or in London... I hope. Who knows which letter I'd have reached by then?  Considering that the intervals between dinners are getting longer, I doubt I'll be able to get to the end of the alphabet before the end of the year. Perhaps I need to create a calendar of my dinners.  This is a good idea (note: I actually did try to calendarize my dinners 6 months in advance starting in 2010.  Most of the times I was able to stick to the schedule...).  At some point, I'll have to start working full time (currently I'm working part time so I have time to look for full time work) so I'll have even less free time.  Oh well, as the say goes, if you want something done, give it to a busy person. 

Enough talk, let's talk about the cuisine of Laos.  It's similar to Thai and Vietnamese cuisine being not too far from these countries.  I've tried to find some simple recipes and ideally low calories but since most dishes contain coconut milk, it wasn't easy.  At any rate, I tried.  A couple of interesting fact about Laos: the currency name is the KIP and Laos is not on the water (somehow I thought these were interesting facts?) and it's surrounded by Burma and China North, Vietnam East, Cambodia South and Thailand West.  Perhaps you all knew this already.  Pardon my ignorance, I just learned it. 

There were 5 of us at dinner.  We should have been 6 but Katie and her husband cancelled as he wasn't feeling well.  I do know that 6-2=4 but at the last minute, Suzanne joined in, another colleague from Delta who a couple of years ago took tango lessons with Eric (yeah, you're reading correctly and according to Eric she was the only person in class who was worse than he was).  Joanne & Nancy came too. 

Here is the menu with the scores:

Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup: This sounded like a good idea until I decided to go heavy on the chilies.  It was a little too hot.  To tone down the heat and make the broth a little more appetizing we added a few mushroom ravioli... not exactly an Asian delicacy but we just pretended they were wonton!.  6

Main Course:
Kai Lao - Laotian Chicken: This recipe turned out into a delicious dish despite the fact that halfway through cooking I realized that I completely got it wrong.  I think I mixed up 2 recipes... Anyhow I used a little immagination and all the ingredients and the sauce was really good... it was more like a delicious risotto.  8+

Light Orange Blossom Oranges:  A very simple dessert but to make it a bit more exciting I added some Grand Marnier instead of orange water.  It was very delicate to the palate.  I liked it... 6

We accompanied the meal with some lovely red wine from Napa Valley: Trinchero, Cabernet Sauvignon. Probably a jasmine tea or something similar would have been more appropriate but we like red wine!

Next stop: Macedonia.  And I'm not talking about fruit (note: in Italian, Macedonia is a fruit salad)

Stay tuned.

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