Celebration Dinner

A big part of our struggle working here in Laos is getting approval from the governement. The first big step is getting that approval from the national government office. We accomplished that already and spent a better part of my internship getting approval at the provincial level. Before you start drooling, I’ll get to the interesting part here. I’m warning you now though that the rest is kind of gross and I’ll warn you before the really bad parts.

Tonight we’re having a staff dinner celebrating our anniversary of the agreement with the national government. So, of course that means we gotta go out and get a few live ducks. Some of the staff, generally those who grew up in the country side and are used to this, will take them out back to kill and prepare them.

Naturally, it would be crazy to waste food, so as they cut the neck, someone is standing with a bowl to catch the blood. I didn’t see it this time, but I’ve seen it plenty of times already. I think the pigs are the worst because of the sound and filth. Also because I saw the most greusome killing I’ve ever seen with a pig.

This would be a good time to plug your ears and yell la la la la la la and skip the next paragraph.

The pig is tied to a post and with the rope attached to its leg and pulled tight, it’s fully sprawled out belly flat on the ground. It’s totally given up on life. Then the men grab it and there’s a sudden explosion of life. This is the moment it’s been waiting for. “Act like you’ve given up and then when those stupid humans untie me I’ll make a break for it.” Nice try little piggy, this isn’t their first rodeo… or pig killing. Either way, they’ve already eaten your whole family. Hoisting it by the legs they lie it on a table. I look away and start to walk that way and then feel guilty that I’ll be enjoying eating that pig later so I can at least watch it die in order to feed us. I’m back now watching, but as one guy walks over with a knife my knees start to get weak. Before this I’d seen chickens, pigs, ducks, and cows all killed. This one was different somehow. Maybe because I gave it a personality when I imagined it talking to the humans and then I explained to it the reality of the situation. The guy with the knife holds the head and then stics the knife right into the neck. Okay, not so bad, I’m getting strength back to not have to hold onto the wall. Then he hooks the motion to get the knife behind something and to slice it as the knife comes out. Between my trembling eyes and the knife protrudes a giant cylindrical object. It’s almost half the size of the pigs neck and I guess it’s the whole wind pipe. Then the knife breaks back through with it, what looks like a fire hose of blood. The pigs screams its last as it also ejects all the poop it was saving to trip the humans as they chased it on its escape. I don’t turn my head as I watch the scene unfold. My legs dipped as I temporarily passed out on the ropes, but I recovered and there was no KO awarded. Since then I started to pay more attention to the pig killings. Wow, that sentence sounds really creepy. It’s a way of life though and if you eat pork, someone had to do it, so I figure why not learn about it. One of my colleagues does it much better as he just puts a little bit of the knife into the perfect spot and twists the knife and it’s just so much more humane.

Anyway, I don’t see the duck killing tonight. I do know from seeing it before that after they catch the blood they immediately start to stir it and add a lot of salt. I think to slow down the coagulation. They also prepared soup and a spicy curry-like dish.

Here’s one of the plates of blood.

This is after people have been eating it, so it doesn’t look so nice. Normally there’s a beautiful bed of greens and peanuts on top. Then there’s a bowl of limes served next to it so you can squirt some line of your spoon full of blood to either add flavor or kill off some of the bad things that’ll make you sick.

Then, like in the picture, people start to eat it and push the stuff around. I had a few bites. I think it’s good! Although I’m a little afraid it’ll turn me into Duckula. Sorry, that was a bad one, I know. The blood tastes a bit spicy, sour from the lime, and more like the other herbs they add then what you’d imagine blood would taste like. The really gross part is that as it sits on the table, it starts to coagulate. You can see the coagulated part on the left and the I part that hasn’t on the right.

It’s strange, but hey people love it here. Or at least the duck blood. The other ones are questionable.

Well, here’s to another spoon full of animal blood.


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