What’s important to you when choosing ingredients for cooking?
The 14th Lao Food Festival is taking place near the Mekong River at Chao Anouvong Park. Organised by the Lao Women’s Union and the Lao Business Women’s Association, more than 160 stalls are selling some of the best foods and produce to be found in Laos and other countries. Vientiane Times went along to learn some of the secrets of Lao cuisine. The festival continues until Saturday.

The food of southern Laos is a favourite with visitors. 

Mrs Pane Seevixay, a vendor from Huaphan province: All the ingredients in the sauces I make are sourced locally. This includes all the vegetables, fish, herbs and spices. Quality ingredients are extremely important to me.  Luckily, in Huaphan province where I live, I have access to a ready supply of organic and fresh ingredients from forests, the river and other growers in the area.  My customers are always happy because they know what I make tastes great and is made with fresh and healthy ingredients. The fish sauce that I make is actually a signature dish for the whole province. Many people make it here, and many people buy it too because it tastes great. Some visitors also buy it because they want a souvenir or memento of their trip to Huaphan.

Mrs Souvanny Sisavath, a vendor from Luang Prabang province: I make sure all the ingredients I use are clean and of the highest quality. I have been cooking and preparing food for customers in Luang Prabang for over 30 years. Some ingredients I buy from markets and I always make sure they have been grown organically and are free of chemicals. Most of the foods I use come from my own and other local gardens.  They are 100 percent guaranteed clean and fresh. The herbs I grow such as ginger, kaffir lime, mint, lemongrass and others are as fine as you will find anywhere.  I know the small fish I use in my food is a really good source of protein and is low in calories too. 

Mrs Bouavanh Saengtavanh, a vendor from Xieng Khuang province: The food I use is almost always sourced from village vendors that I know. All the herbs and vegetables we grow and use come from fresh sources and are free of chemical fertilisers. The growers and vendors here share in the profits that come from the sale of prepared foods.  Selling quality fresh food means the village stays healthy. It also means we have some income to help take care of our families.

Mrs Kongkeo Phonethavong, a vendor from Vientiane:  I am serious about the type and quality of ingredients I use in my cooking. I want everything I use to be ultra clean with maximum taste. I buy my ingredients from local villagers because I know that the garden produce they supply is free of industrial and chemical fertilisers. My products are available every Tuesday and Saturday at the Organic Market at the ITECC Mall. I feel honoured to be part of the Lao Food Festival this year.  I am proud to be able to promote Lao food and culture to foreign visitors and guests.  It makes me happy to be a part of the festivities that are happening here in Vientiane this week.
Mr Vansao Sonevixay, an ODOP producer in Huaphan province:   I bring my products to the Lao Food Festival every year. I can confirm that my food is clean and comes from entirely organic sources.  One of the great things about Laos is the abundance of clean and natural ingredients available. The quality and diversity of the fruit that grows here is fantastic.  Since so many people have smallholdings there is also always a great supply of clean and fresh ingredients to choose from. Lao cuisine is as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world, in my opinion.

Mrs Bouangern Sonephachan, a vendor from Xieng Khuang province:  The ingredients I use are produced and grown entirely by my family.  I am involved in every step of the food preparation process and I can guarantee my food is always clean and of the highest standard. More and more people are realising that a healthy diet will help them get the most out of other aspects of their lives, like work and relationships. People are also developing more refined tastes and are more careful not to buy and eat things that don’t look clean or fresh. The Lao Food Festival is great because it really does highlight the healthy and good tasting food on offer, not only from Laos but other countries too.

By Phouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update January 26, 2019)

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