All posts filed under: Culture

Ambassador to Laos, The Honorable Rena Bitter visits the PacNW and Discusses Building Bridges

Former President, Barack Obama’s presidency was full of historical firsts. Everyone knows about the larger scale accomplishments, but only a small country like Laos, and its people around the world, would even care enough to know about the smaller stuff. I’m talking, of course, about the historical visits to Laos from Secretary Hillary Clinton to said President himself, a couple of years ago. While the homeland can only view it positively – the Lao diaspora ran the gamut of emotions. Not unexpected, considering it’s been a little over 40 years since the diaspora began. While some of us have made it back home for a visit, the disappearance of Sombath Somphone raises the dormant alarms we never quite forgot. It’s as if we were lulled into a semi-safe space by a lethargic dance-off only to have the Bogeyman reappear after we washed our makeup off. Regardless, with 40 years of time passing, the doors to some kind of positive relationship appear to at least be open. I couldn’t say if that is an insanely long …

Interview: Chef James Syhabout and Hawker Fare

It’s taken the Lao community by storm. Hawker Fare: Recipes & Stories from a Refugee Chef’s Thai Isan & Lao Roots was released at the beginning of the year and people are still buzzing. The book was published under Anthony Bourdain’s imprint, a man known for culinary travel shows like No Reservations and Parts Unknown. For a population that’s long been under the shadow of neighbouring Thailand, many are thrilled to see their cuisine brought into the limelight. For the history buffs–northeastern Thailand was once a part of the Kingdom of Laos. So, Isan food/Northeastern Thailand cuisine has roots from Laos. The author is Chef James Syhabout, who says his identity is difficult to box in. “People say I’m Lao and people say I’m Thai. I’m both. Lao American chef? Sure. Thai American chef? Sure, I’m that too. It’s complicated.” James was born in northeast Thailand to a Lao father and a Thai Isan mother. The trio landed in the US in 1981. They made a home in west Oakland, California, forging a community with other …