Laotian cuisine

The staple food of the Lao is sticky rice (Lao: ເຂົ້າໜຽວ, khao niao, pronounced [kʰȁw.nǐa̯w]). Laos has the highest sticky rice consumption per-capita in the world with an average of 171 kilograms (377 lb) of sticky rice consumed annually per person. Sticky rice is deeply ingrained in the culture, religious tradition and national identity of Laos. It is a common belief within the Lao community that no matter where they are in the world, sticky rice will always be the glue that holds the Lao communities together, connecting them to their culture and to Laos. Affinity for sticky rice is considered the essence of what it means to be Lao. Often the Lao will refer to themselves as luk khao niaow (Lao: ລູກເຂົ້າໜຽວ, pronounced [luːk kʰȁw.nǐaw]), which can be translated as 'children or descendants of sticky rice'.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has described Laos as a "collector's paradise". Laos has the highest degrees of biodiversity of sticky rice in the world. As of 2013, approximately 6,530 glutinous rice varieties were collected from five continents (Asia, South America, North America, Europe and Africa) where glutinous rice are grown for preservation at the International Rice Genebank (IRGC). The IRRI gathered more than 13,500 samples and 3,200 varieties of glutinous rice from Laos.

The trifecta of Laos' national cuisine are sticky rice, larb, and green papaya salad (Lao: ຕຳໝາກຫຸ່ງ, tam mak hoong). The most famous Lao dish is larb (Lao: ລາບ; sometimes also spelled laab or laap), a spicy mixture of marinated meat or fish that is sometimes raw (prepared like ceviche) with a variable combination of herbs, greens, and spices.

Lao cuisine has many regional variations, corresponding in part to the fresh foods local to each region. A French legacy is still evident in the capital city, Vientiane, where baguettes (Lao: ເຂົ້າຈີ່) are sold on the street and French restaurants are common and popular, which were first introduced when Laos was a part of French Indochina.