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The staff at this hotel in Luang Prabang, Laos, have taken a shine to me. Maybe it’s because I practice Lao with them sometimes, maybe it’s because I let them work on their English with me sometimes. I think it’s because they get a kick out of the fact that I eat sticky rice with my eggs in the morning. (The waitress still giggles when she brings me sticky rice, as she has done every day since I asked if I could have khao niaow instead of toast.) Maybe the old lady in the kitchen just wants to fatten me up a bit.

For whatever reason, at some point, they decided that they weren’t going to give me the regular falang breakfast. Instead, one day, the old lady who seems to run the kitchen and do the actual cooking–who I’d never met before–comes out, not with the fried eggs that I eat every time we have breakfast here–but with a plate of pork fried with garlic and ginger. (She pointed out the ginger several times, saying the word in English. I think perhaps it’s supposed to help you get pregnant. I’m pushing past prime baby-making age and the Lao are very concerned!) The plate was clearly for me: my friend got his normal eggs and toast.

Now, of course, I don’t normally eat meat, and when I eat it for politeness’s sake, I don’t eat that much of it. But these lovely kitchen ladies hide behind the wall that divides the kitchen and the restaurant and watch us eat! I had a serious dilemma. I didn’t want eat just a bit and then ask for some eggs–I couldn’t have finished both and I didn’t want her to think I didn’t appreciate my special dish. So I decided to show my gratitude and chow down on the pork. (It was delicious.)

I didn’t have breakfast there for two days. Today, I went again, hoping my plate of pork had been a one-time, special treat. Nope. Today it was some sort egg soufflé thing with noodles and chicken. Again, just for me. Again, delicious. I’m wonderfully, terribly trapped. The staff are really nice. I feel really pleased that they’re making me their food. I might just have to wander down to the kitchen and ask how they make the food and see if they’ll let me hang around and watch. Maybe I’ll sneak in a statement about how I don’t eat all that much meat–but they might think that just means they need to start serving me liver and blood to make up for lost time. Maybe I’ll just eat a few more meat breakfasts to avoid hurting the old lady’s feelings. My soul for the price of a cooking lesson. Ha.