When the soccer game is over, it's time for the feast! This party is special because our hosts are serving numerous traditional but rarely eaten dishes, all made from a single, freshly-slaughtered goat. We're honored to be included in the festivities, thrilled that we're being swept off our feet by Lao so quickly, and a little daunted when the table begins to fill with all manner of caprine foods.
Deat had already told us that they would be serving goat, so we are mentally prepared. What we are not prepared for is the goat's blood being mixed with lao-lao (rice wine). Pem tells us that it helps with a man's virility. When I ask Deat what it does for women, he shrugs and says… "Maybe it makes them prettier?"Natasha
Pem, Pete and Natasha's friend who invited us, shows us how it's done: grimace, pinch your nose, and then down the hatch! We take comfort in the fact that he, along with everyone else at the party, doesn't seem to want to drink it, but imbibes for tradition's sake.
As for the four of us, Pete, Natasha, and Tyler adventurously give it a go, lending a whole new meaning to the term "blood alcohol content". I'm usually a more daring eater, but my stomach is still messed up from yesterday. There's no way I'll be drinking any liquor today, plain or goat's blood flavored.
Next up, we all sit down at a long table, and eye the foreign dishes one by one. There's a spicy goat liver pâté that's pretty tasty, a gingery cooked goat that is comfortably "normal", and a stew that tastes like poop (what is it with the poop-flavored stuff lately?).
After that comes the raw blood salad with meat mixed in, and then the cooked blood salad with meat mixed in. It's not so bad; Tyler says it reminds him of putting pennies in his mouth when he was a kid.
And finally, the scariest dish of all: a raw goat skin and intestine salad.
Natasha's priceless facial expressions say it all. Mmmmm.
By the end, we're stuffed to the gills with sticky rice, bits of goat, and bowls of back-up noodle soup that Pem thoughtfully brought for us so we wouldn't starve. Sitting at a long wooden table, chatting and laughing, we're blown away by the kindness, hospitality, and relaxed demeanor of Lao people.
This Friday festival is just getting started!