Lao cuisine reflects the ethnic diversity of the country and its surrounding neighbors. Laos has strong regional variations even among common dishes, with sticky rice being the staple of most meals.
A common Lao meal would consist of a richly spiced minced fish or chicken salad or larb, served with sticky rice; a jaew or paste made of chili peppers for dipping; tam mak hung – a fiery and sour fresh green papaya salad, a broth based soup like kaeng no mai (bamboo soup); fresh herbs and vegetables served raw; tropical fruit as a dessert; and is served with the local beer or lao-lao rice liquor.
Lao cuisine is similar to Thai, but more bitter, sour and spicy. Wild game and insects known commonly as “jungle food” are also enjoyed.
Vietnamese dishes like pho and spring rolls are extremely popular throughout the country. Ethnic Yunnanese Chinese food is common in Vientiane, and is reflected in the fried dough dishes which are commonly sold as street snacks.
The years of French colonialism have also given Laos a number of food items including the baguette, omelets, pâté and croissants – and coffee.