I was inspired to write about the topic ‘Foods From Nature’, after seeing all the vegetables and fishes from Darly’s post On The Border Grocery Shopping, at Laocuisine.net. I was born and raised in Champasak region, and I remembered my mom told me that many different types of food can be found in nature, whether it’s mushrooms, bamboo shoots, ant eggs, and various type of eatable flowers that grown in the wild, such as Dork Kaeh, Dork Ka Jewl, and leaves such as Pak Varn (sweet vegetable), or Pak Ka Dao (bitter taste), and the best part about them are that these are free from any type of pesticide, and really FREE because they are grown in the forest.
Most locals knew when these vegetables would come out and where to go to find them. It was funny when my mom said that somehow, your body knew when mushrooms were in season, you would have a craving for them, your mouth would start to salivate just thinking about them. Not to mention other types of wild vegetables and flowers that would take turn to sprout out all year long, there were always something to eat all year round. Then there were plenty in the water also, whether it’s cockles, snails, prawns, sao noi discos (dancing shrimp), frogs, and fishes. On land, there were plenty of eatable insects that were very popular among the locals, which I don’t find them very appetizing.
I think it’s well understood among the locals that once you take care of nature, it will take care of you. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that many parts of Laos have not been touched by modern civilization, the beauty that is rare and charming to those that have the opportunity to visit.
To live harmonious with nature is a way of life for most Buddhist. I was taught to respect nature, which my mom said that every mountains and valleys have ‘Jouh Tenh’ (spirit of guardian angel, or ghost spirit); this belief has been passed down for generations. My mom said that our bodies components are made up of 4 elements, such as earth, water, wind, and fire, and everybody’s make up vary according to the region that you were born, eating foods from nature of that region would definitely promote good health, because you are one with nature, you belong there. I think this might explain why those that were born in Laos have a strong sense of belonging, even though we might have left at a very young age. Some might not have much memory of the country but the feeling of wanting to go back are stronger as we get older, I can truly speak this for myself and many others that share this feeling with me.
My mom said that the best medicine that you can find back when she lived in Laos was herbal remedy from nature, if you get sick, it’s best to nourish your body back to good health by eating food from nature, especially if you were born from that region; the elements in your body are one with nature, which these foods could help adjust these elements (earth, water, wind, and fire) in your body back to normal. My mom said that when the weather is extremely hot, we need to eat food that will eliminate the fire element in our bodies by eating vegetables. She said that the concept of ‘food from nature’ has been around for centuries. I’ll always remember the little things that my mom taught me.