is not only a key ingredient and an essential need of our life. It is also a
tool to showcase a culture, tradition, customs, and the way of life of a
country. Lao food is no exception. It is known not only for its flavor, but
also for its name. Lao people name their
dishes in a very special way, such as to fit an occasion for good luck. Many
people know Lao food for being unique, spicy and very tasty. That
was one of the reasons why Thai food stylist of Karb Studio Suthipong Suriya wanted to make a
Lao cookbook that showcases not only the many original, great Lao dishes from
Luang Prabang, the former royal royal capital of Laos, but also the photos that
capture the way of life of Luang Prabang people.
who writes a food column for several Thai magazines, has a passion in cooking
at a young age. He assisted his mother in cooking Lao food. Suthipong was born
in Nong Khai, Thailand, but his father was from Vientiane, Laos. He was raised
in a bi-cultural environment, Thai and Lao. Besides being a creative food stylist,
Suthipong is also a great photographer;he captures the ways of lives of the
people and the regions he has visited. Since his job requires a lot of
traveling and tasting different kinds of foods, he has had experiences with all
varieties, but felt in love with Luang Prabang dishes, perhaps because of his
Lao descent. He started to travel back and forth between Luang Prabang and
Bangkok, Thailand, for several months to really understand the Luang Prabang way
of life and, its people.
said, "I traveled to Luang Prabang, back and forth for three-four months before
writing this cookbook. While I was in Luang Prabang, I got a chance to learn
from a true master of Luang Prabang cooking, Vandara is a great chef; her aunt
was an assistant to Phia Sing, who was the master chef for the Luang Prabang
Royal Palace. I got to learn and witness the ways of life of the Luang Prabang
people, how they live their daily life based on , finding true happiness with
nature and simplicity."
response to VOA's question of why he chose Luang Prabang dishes as the theme
for his cookbook, Suthipong said, "In general, Lao and Thai foods are about the
same but Luang Prabang dishes are more special, because they were food for the
King, Queen and the Royal Families. Luang Prabang dishes are very delicate and
there is a unique way to prepare them, which is quite different from other Lao
dishes that you & I have known."
Suriya's cookbook, "Food and Travel: Laos," received the best Foreign Cookbook
Award in Madrid, Spain, in 2007. This competition was chosen among 107
countries and in 44 languages. Suthipong said he was very honored and proud to
be selected among the many great authors from different countries that
submitted their works.
Suthipong said he wanted his Lao cookbook to be completely
different from other cookbooks that are out there in the markets. He wanted it to be more than a mere cookbook, but a documentary that showcases not only the
flavorful and delicious food of a county, but also its culture and people, as
well as its architectural splendors. "Really, food is an essential part of our
life, it is what we are, how we live and work. I don't want my cookbook to be an ordinary cookbook that sits in a
kitchen, but one that its owner is proud to show it in his/her living room
where people can pick it up, read it and learn from it."
about his future project, Suthipong said, "My future plan is to cover a
different part of Laos, its food and its region, perhaps Champassack in
southern Laos. I am also interested in writing about the former royal family.
It has a unique and interesting story behind it."
listen to Suthipong's interview in Lao, click on our audio files.