Food is important for everyone, but in Southeast Asia it is often elevated to a lifestyle. In social life, food is also important. Many people do not eat at regular times: they eat when they're hungry. Therefore, especially in the cities, you can eat anytime. There are special food markets, night markets and noodle stalls along the road, and everywhere people selling snacks or fruit. Food from the street is so cheap and delicious that people rarely cook. In rural areas, this is of course different. When eating on the street the rule is: "Many customers = lots of fresh supply. However, the average western stomach needs to adjust to new ingredients so start easy, not too hot, not too spicy. The population generally likes hot, spicy food. However, not all dishes are hot. There are varying degrees of heat and sauces are used to add extra fire if desired.
Rice and rice noodles are the basic ingredients of the Lao cuisine. The steamed rice is usually, for some specialty preferred to glutinous rice. Vegetables and fish are eaten more than pork, beef and chicken. The Lao also like to eat unusual meats so you can perhaps sample an armadillo, a lizard or a monkey.
The herbs make the Laotian cuisine so special. Much is being made with coriander, lemongrass, fresh basil, lime, garlic, galangal root, shrimp paste, chillies and coconut milk. The market has also worked extensively with the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate. People who are allergic to it, beware! The Laotian meal is often served with side dishes. Everything is served with the main meal, including soup. Soup is never eaten in Laos as a starter.
Fruit is for sale everywhere (depending on season), there is a wide choice: banana, mango, papaya, pineapple, apricot, apple, lychee, and coconut are some examples. Unusual fruits are delicious pink dragon fruit, the purple mangosteen (round fruit with juicy sour-tasting white flesh), the stinking (but good tasting) durian, the jack fruit, rambutan (red 'hairy' fruit with a large stone and juicy) , water apple and grapefruit.
The water from the tap is not suitable for consumption. Buy bottles of purified water or mineral water (in Vietnam: nuoc Suoi). Please note that the bottles should have their original seal. Ice cubes in your Coke are also taboo, which are indeed made from tap water. In other cases they can be made of filtered water, but transported in an unhygienic way.
Drinks in Laos:
Tea and coffee (usually Nescafe) can be found almost everywhere. They are often served with ice, as iced tea or iced coffee. Soft drinks are also for sale everywhere. As there is a deposit required on the bottles, the bottle contents are often just poured into a plastic bag containing an inserted straw. There are also delicious fruit juices for sale containing the various local fruits. Beer is expensive and often tastes quite bitter. Liquor you can buy cheaply, such as Thai Mekong whiskey, but also Western brands. Wine is only available in expensive restaurants and luxury shops.