The first half of dinner at Tamarind had already been quite an adventure, and though we didn't know it at the time, there was much more to come.
Next up was this Or Lam like stew. It lacked much of the bitter tones of Or Lam, and was fairly hearty, and studded with sticky rice, which probably contributed to the thickness of the broth.
The highlite of the soup were all the small frogs, which were fairly sweet. You ate the frogs whole, the bones were soft. The Missus loved the flavor of the frogs.....which She called "crab-like."
Also on the plate were two large "Mok" - banana leaf wrapped items, and a eel that had been grilled in the typical Lao style.
The eel was hard.....like eating solid bone.
The large packet contained a flower that we had seen all through the Fresh Market, always surrounded by swarms of fruit flies...it must be really sweet.
It had been stuffed with pork, and was very, very tasty. Even better than Mok Pa, it literally melted in our mouths.
As we opened the next packet, Joy suddenly appeared and told us; "here in Luang Prabang, that is what you'll make for your children if you love them." So we opened up the packet.....
It tasted sweet, but was a bit "liver-y" for me. The Missus on the other hand loved this, calling it, "really rich, and almost like crab brains and eggs." I knew this was something from the organ/offal category. Can you guess what it is? This folks......was pig brains. Even though this was so rich She barely finished it, the Missus still smacks Her lips when I mention this.
The various critters really challenged you mentally rather than flavor-wise. The grasshopper were fairly nutty, the crickets a bit more gamey. I really, really enjoyed the tiny bugs that looked like small Cockroaches, as did that forest bug....they had a nice, almost floral flavor. The Missus didn't care for the Bee Larvae. You basically cracked open the hive, and larvae fell out to the plate.
I on the other hand loved the sweet, honey - floral flavor of the larvae. A quick dip into salt actually improved the sweetness.
The one bug that we didn't enjoy was this fella':
After removing the head, legs, wings, and hard shell, the squishy flesh had a mildly bitter, offal-like flavor.
The next plate (yes, yet another!) that arrived looked positively tame next to what we had just consumed. It looked very familiar to me.
It was a plate of herbs, spices, and other items, that would be wrapped in lettuce leaves, and dipped into the tangy tamarind based sauce and consumed. I've had a similar dish in various Thai Restaurants, where it's called Miang Khum. Curious about this, I inquired, and found out it is a popular party appetizer in Luang Prabang. Unfortunately, I forgot to get the Lao name for this dish. Upon my return, I turned to David Thompson's awesome book Thai Food, where I found a listing for "Miang Lao". Thompson claims a Northern Thai origin for the dish, but notes that the version in the book is of Lao origin. I'm sure a few readers will chime in on this.
The Missus told me, "I wish we could squeeze in another meal here......." All the more reason to return.
The meal ended with a typical sticky rice confection, which reminded me of arare. I had already consumed an entire bag of this that I had purchased earlier, so I had no problem polishing these off.
As well strolled the one block back to our room, I reflected on all the amazing meals we've had over the last 2 years. Meals that had changed our opinions on food, from an amazing home made Cuy dinner in Cusco, to Astrid y Gaston in Lima. Roasted Sparrows at Highway 4 in Hanoi and 10 courses of snake in Le Mat. A lunch with a touching toast at Can Cau Market, dinner with the guy with 2 wives in Bac Ha, learning that you should be "Happy Happy Everyday" in Siem Reap...and so many more. All of these meals (and many more) have really added color to our lives. Thank you for honor of letting us share them with you all.