LEADERS - not followers

Thursday, December 4, 2008



“So you want to try PLAR LAR?
Come out with me, in my boat;
we’ll have some fun, catching fish,
now the rain has stopped falling.
Here’s a bottle of LAO KHAO…
it’ll put hairs on your chest;
take your mind off the journey.”

“You know I don’t like LAO KHAO…
go on then…just a small one…
By the way…where are the rods?”

Floodwater concealed the banks;
turned river into ocean.
As the current slowed, I dared
to loosen my vice-like grip…
could have been thanks to LAO KHAO.

When we came across a weir,
we secured the boat; got out.
On the downstream side, were nets,
attached to lengths of bamboo.
Some contained fish; some empty.

Bemused by the sight, at first,
I watched more; began nodding.

Every few minutes, a fish,
attempting to jump the weir,
would land in the makeshift nets,
thrashing about, to escape,
before giving up the fight.

We watched from a safe distance,
shaded by Tamarind trees;
picking the unripened fruit,
dabbing them in a mixture
of sugar and chilli flakes.

Face-contorting, bitter-sweet.
Enough to turn you to drink.

“Pass me the LAO KHAO, quickly;
gotta wash this taste away.”

That was a stupid mistake.
Felt like my mouth was on fire.

“You should chase it with water.”

“You should have said earlier.”

To cut a long story short,
we headed back with our catch,
feeling rather giddy, from
rocking boat, LAO KHAO, combined.

His wife spent the afternoon
gutting , beheading the fish,
removing tails, fins and scales,
and adding handfuls of salt.

The fish were placed in stone pots,
capped with mosquito netting

Two weeks later; inspection.
Sickly, sweaty, fishy smell.
Scrape off, discard top layer,
scooping out any maggots
infesting the rotting flesh,
add more salt to witches brew,
leave to fester for a year,
before the ‘sauce’ is declared fit
for human consumption.

Pass me that LAO KHAO bottle!

PLAR LAR – Isan-style fish sauce.
An essential cooking ingredient/condiment.
Considered a delicacy.

LAO KHAO – Very potent, Rice Liquor


  1. A great adventure - but dubious result :-)
    Enjoyed this.

  2. Thanks Anthony; It was an experience, for sure.

  3. i think this is pretty interesting and some countries had tradition like this. if the process is not know its fine, lol.

  4. Good job. I'd sure rather read it than eat it!

  5. Thanks to:
    Totomai; Makes me wonder about other foods I eat.
    Tumblewords; Food for thought to satisfy hungry minds.

  6. I've heard of this! Excellent take on the prompt!

  7. Thanks Linda; the guide book informs of a delicacy, made from 'fermented anchovies' - now I know.

  8. dude... i gotta draw the line somewhere... and i am thinking maggot riddden fish is about as close to the line as i can allow myself to imagine.....

  9. Thanks Paisley; Me too - but they say 'no problem, it's only flies eggs' - another delicacy? I know they eat ants eggs.

  10. Hi Stan, very informative poem again, sounds delicious!

    PS Spig says hello!

  11. Hi andy - thanks; Maybe that's what put the hairs on my chest!

    Hi Spig; I'll be in touch.