Saturday, January 8, 2011

Buddhism, Beignets and Silkworm Poo Tea

From Siem Reap to Luang Prabang, Buddhism is woven into the fabric of society, and is very much a part of everyday life. Monks, clad in saffron robes, are a common sight in Cambodia, but particularly so in the UNESCO protected village of Luang Prabang in Laos. 

Each morning at sunrise, Buddhist monks make their way through the streets of their community and collect alms from the villagers that kneel along the streets outside their temples. Alms such as sticky rice (a Laotian favourite), fruit or sweet biscuits are placed in the monk's bowls that they hold in front as they pass by, all of which is shared among them, and comprises their breakfast and lunch for the day. They don't eat dinner.

By the time we had finished giving out sticky rice to the Monks of Luang Prabang, we were hungry too, after all it was 6am and we hadn't had breakfast yet ourselves. So we headed off to the local market and found a lady making homemade beignets. How could we resist? Made of corn flour and coconut, and deep fried, the beignets were gorgeous — warm and soft on the inside, lovely and crunchy on the outside. We even tried Silkworm Poo tea...just as it sounds! As silkworks munch their way through mulberry leaves, they excrete little poos, and the Laotians make a tea out of the little turds! No kidding.