Laap festival in Chiang Mai

Thai people seem to be at the peak of their creative powers when they need to come up with another believable excuse for having a picnic. Usually, the routine trip to a waterfall suffices, but if there is additional demand for more party elements, such as luk tung music, karaoke, and a beauty pageant, a day is set aside to celebrate locally produced mango or strawberry. Or, today, a dish called laap.

Laap is the national food of Laos and also part of the staple Isaan diet, usually eaten together with sticky rice. It is not that easy to find laap in Chiang Mai. However, Lanna people have their own version of this dish as well, and today, chefs from hotels, polytechnic schools, fancy restaurants as well as enthusiasts came together to mince away for hours and then put their laap to the test.

Traditional Lanna laap is made from fresh raw beef or pig, mixed with blood, and minced manually…. for what looks and definitely feels like an eternity. Of course, chili and onion are added as well. It is served with mint, cilantro, long beans, cabbage, onions and other fresh vegetables. There seem to be lots of different recipes out there… mostly in Thai.

Personally, I would rather stay away from raw food, especially at this climate. But it was a nice little event in the outdoor courtyard of Kad Suan Kaew shopping centre, with little kids singing and dancing, a wonderful scent of mint in the air, and lots of friendly people who were trying to convince me to taste their laap. Who won the contest? No idea. But for sure it looked like everyone had a great time 🙂

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