According to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the Year of the Rat is being marked by some changes to the Vietnamese diet. Due in part to the bird flu epidemic, rat meat and other specialty meats are becoming increasing popular.
This might be new in Vietnam, but Lao villagers are definitely ahead of this trend. When we visited a village outside of Luang Prabang, Laos last month, we learned that the usual diet of fish, pork and poultry is often supplemented with meat from wild birds, snakes, rats and bats. And after visiting one of the local markets, we could understand why.
We saw no dairy stalls in this market, for a very good reason. Electricity, where it’s available, costs approximately US$0.25 per kilowatt hour in Laos. That is expensive even by North American standards, and it puts refrigeration out of the economic reach of the average Laotian villager.