Monday, 15 August 2011

Sai ua: The sausage from Laos and Isan of Northeast Thailand

After further research on sai ua, I found out that while sai ua is a specialty of  Luang Prabang, it is neither exclusive to the city, nor to Laos.

In fact, sai ua is a type of sausage common in Laos and Northern Thailand, and each place has its own take on sai ua. In Chiang Mai, sai ua is longer than the ones found in Vientiane.

The shared food  by Thailand's northeast region and Laos could be explained by history. Modern-day Thailand and Laos were part of the Khmer empire (See above map from Wikipedia commons, Khmer Empire area labeled as red). When the monarchy fell in the 13th century, the Isan region became a part of the succeeding Lao Lan Xang kingdom for the next centuries, but in the 17th century, Siam stepped in and claimed the territory. From 18th to 19th century, Thailand "carried out forced population transfers from Laos to Isan (source)", followed by an extensive Thaification campaign, which encouraged the multi-cultural kingdom to adapt the script and culture of central Thailand. This led to a drift between the Lao of the Isan region and those in Laos, and Isan has since been a part of Thailand. But despite the established geographical boundary, Isan and Laos still share a culture and history that run deep. Their language and food, including sai ua, is a testament of this.

The good news with this realization is that, like in the Philippines, I can go around Laos and Northeast Thailand so sample a wide variety of sai ua! Once I do this, expect I'll share the experience here at Turo-turong Longganisa.

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