3rd. April 2013 

Cow Sauce

"Copyright Owen Jones 2013 (c)" 

By: Owen Jones 

cow sauce

Sometimes, I have to go to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos in order to renew my visa for Thailand. This only happens when Lloyds TSB fails to send enough of my money over in time to qualify for a twelve-month visa extension. It should not happen often, but this was my eighth trip in as many years.

Laos is not that far from our home, but getting a visa is an arduous journey that takes about three days. In fact, our village is less than 100 km from the Laos border, but foreigners (non Thai or Lao citizens) may not cross there. We have to go over the Friendship Bridge at Nong Khai.

Now, to get to the Friendship Bridge, I have to go 75 km SW to get a bus, that then takes us about 350 km NE. However, most of the journey is through mountains and if you have a bad back, the swaying and bouncing of the bus is quite painful.

The last time that my wife and I had to go, we had a few days to spare, so we stopped off at Udon Thani to visit some friends. Udon Thani is only an hour from the Lao border so it is an excellent rest point.

Our friend, Ayr, is from that area, north Isaan and is very proud of the local cuisine, which has a reputatation elsewhere in Thaland for being hot and, shall we say, a little 'unusual'.

We stayed with Ayr for a few days and every day she would cook us something different: not only once a day, but three or four times a day. Someimes she sent out for more food too.

My wife used to live with Ayr before we got married and I got the impression that when not working or sleeping, they must have been eating or talking the whole time!

Sometimes, I would go to bed or sit in the garden with my laptop and leave them to it. I really enjoyed watching my wife reminisce with her old friend, whom she now saw less than once a year.

At our home, my wife and I usually ate the same sort of food, but I can always tell when my wife is going to treat herself  to something special because I get a plate of Western food like a steak, kebabs or really nice sandwiches. I love this food but my wife does not.

If my wife eats alone in the garden, then I know better than to ask what it is, although it will be nothing more than bala, som tam or chickens' feet. She knows that it is not for me and I know that she does not like the smell of beef.

On the last evening before we had to go to Vientiane, I went to bed early and left the ladies to it. However, I could not sleep, so I got up, dressed and went back to join them.

They were sitting on the floor, Thai style, watching TV, surrounded by bowls of food, as I had imagined they would be, so I went to the fridge, took out a beer and joined them.

Ayr fetched me a stick of French bread that they had bought earlier and my wife pointed me at a few bowls of food and sauce. She normally never offered me those sauces that she knew were too hot for my palate.

When I dipped the end of my bread in one of the sauces, Ayr looked at me and then at my wife and smiled. I interpreted this to mean that it was hot, but I was determined to carry on.

"This sauce is lovely!" I declared, "What is it?"

My wife looked at me: "Grass from a dead cow's bum... Uh, cow shit! But not dirty, it never fall on the floor."

by Owen Jones

(c) Owen Jones 3rd April, 2013.

This story may not be copied in any way without the written permission of it's author, Owen Jones, but you may link to it, if you so desire.