I go out of my way to find the interesting, bizarre and tasty... which is
odd for a Wisconsinite, no offence to us, or our cooking styles. But the
only thing is culinarily (I think I made that word up) sophisticated is
the cheese, I wish I was lying, but my staple foods are meat and potatoes
(cheese is its own category), with salt, and maybe, if the chef is
adventourous, pepper. Our beer is cheap (shout out to Milwaukees Best and
Schlitz!!!) and the remaining food consists of cheese and sausage
platters, pasties, and fruit, only if it is sweet and, dare I say

You think I am lying, go to a Mexican Restaurant in the upper midwest...
you will know... Now I realize that this may be a cultural exaggeration of
stereotypes (curse me if you will), but the only thing we do awesome are
the State Fairs. Now, I realize that my red neck is showing when I make
this statement, but in the Midwest, state fairs are a huge deal.

Food in Asia is like a gigantic State Fair. That is the only way to
describe it... A Culinary Extravaganza!

I just love walking through the night markets, not only are there a lot of
shiny, silky, and distracting goods, but anytime that I crave something
deep fried, on a stick, meatlike, or a combination of the aforementioned
tastes (which happens frighteningly often) a booth turns up selling these

Most of the time, I can't figure out what type of meaty, deep fried
goodness on a stick that I am getting, so I purchase it, and ask questions

Tonight, I was wandering through the market in Luang Prabang, Laos,
resisting the shiny, shimmery, hand woven silk objects, cool containers of
bamboo, and exotic jewelry and gemstones on my way to the food booths.
Much to my joy, I came to the portion of the food boothes selling random
meat on a stick!


There it was... right in front of me! It was a fish stick! And we aren't
talking the Vandekamps flaky fish sticks that I had to eat Fridays during
Lent growing up, I literally mean a fish, full fish, on a stick.

Anyone who knows me well enough should know of my recent (as in, right
before the trip) overcoming of my irrational fear of fish... I don't know
what caused this fear in the first place, but I have had it since second
grade, so much so, that I dashed out of our Summer Camp Water Emergency
Response training crying hysterically (at the age of 20 mind you) because
a 3 inch SunFish ran into my forehead!

There it was, fully intact, eyes, bones, skin, the whole shebang, on a
bamboo stick. Probably caught fresh from the Mekong River this morning,
and I thought to myself, what a better way to conquer your fears that to
eat them? I can't think of a better way to dispose of anything, including
things that I am not afraid of.

I bought that fish (named Fred) served on a banana leaf, and sat and
stared at his poor, grilled skin. He stared back at me, (as he still had
his expressionless fish eyes completly intact) not to eat him. I raised my
fork to his pale, skin, and started to shred him open mercelessly.

I stared at the pale flesh, took a large gulp, and chewed. My oh my, it
was the BEST fish I had ever had! And I grew up in a Great Lakes State,
where Friday Fish Frys are just what we do! Marinated, juicy and drippy
(no, it did not taste like chicken...) it was like heaven on a plate.

15 minutes later, all that was left of Fred was a few internal organs, a
spine, and a head (stupid staring eyes didn't comprehend getting eaten)

I would like to remind those of you who think fish on a stick is weird,
just remember that this year, at the Minnesota State fair, I had a deep
fried chocolate covered bacon.

Another fear conquered down to a pile of bone, in a nice, tasty way!

And I am still alive!

10 points for me!


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Author Mandy Posted

Program Southeast Asia Departure Fall 2008