Can’t live without the fish sauce!

I have many fond memories of my college days.  The first one of course involves food. When I went off to college I did not take any Laotian grocery, condiments, or sauces with me because I didn’t know who my roommate was going to be and how they were going to be like.  I didn’t want to offend the person’s sense of smell by stinking up the tiny dorm room with padek and fishsauce. I didn’t want the person to think it was me that stink instead of those sauces. That would definitely make a bad impression. Besides one of my goal was to make friends not enemies!The first semester my roommate was a cowgirl.  She was straight from the farm. Her parents own a thriving farm with chickens, cows, goats etc.  She was pretty nice, but I still did not feel comfortable cooking Laos food using any padek or fishsauce.  It was not until the second semester when my best friend and I could room with each other when I could really cook good Laotian food.  Once we started rooming with each other I went home to get my Laotian spices and condiments which included our favorite and must have: fish sauce! 

There was a kitchen in the basement of our dorm where we do our cooking.  I should say I was the expert cook and my best friend was the helper since she couldn’t cook any Laos food.  Anyway, I don’t remember what we cooked but we were in a rush to go back upstairs to our room to eat it so we were hurrying up the stairs when one of us dropped the bottle of fish sauce down the stair case.  It broke when it went slipping from our hands and over the side of the staircase.  We both gasped and looked at each other horrified because we could already smell the stinkiness drifting up to us.  Instead of cleaning it up we rushed away from our crime scene and to our room because we didn’t want anyone to know we did it.  We didn’t clean it up because we didn’t want anybody to catch us cleaning it up and then ask us twenty questions on what that sauce was. I know it’s horrible to not clean up something we did, but under this circumstance we felt it necessary to run away because we were embarrass to admit we love fish sauce and it’s part of our cooking.

That fish sauce was clean up that same week by the janitors because someone had complain that something stinking was in the basement.  The other girls on our floor would talk about the smell too and wonder what the hell stunk so bad down there.  My friend and I would look at each other and had to turn away before we started laughing because contrary to what they think, there was nothing dead there in the basement just fish sauce! 

After our “accident” we were more careful because we didn’t want to be caught as the culprit.


2 thoughts on “Can’t live without the fish sauce!

  1. Dallas

    Now that is a funny story. I don’t have anything that match that.
    That fish sauce will stink for a long long time I am sure of that.

    First year I ate out most of the time. I didn’t know anyone. Later I met some Lao students and we moved an apartment. I don’t even remember what our cafeteria look like at all. I can’t stand eating cafeteria food.
    But at night….it is chicken or shrimp flavor mama noodle with fishball. I never felt like I miss any Lao food at all when there is a party at the temple all the time and wedding.

  2. Laotian Teacher


    Mama noodles are the best especially with meatballs. Throw some basil and cilantro in there along with grounded chili peppers. My friend and I would get up at 200 in the morn sometimes to go down to the infamous basement to make our noodles.

    You were lucky you went to a college that was near the wat. I was stuck in a small dairy farming community!

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