Monday, September 8, 2008

Picture 1 : The researcher with baguette in Vientaine
Picture 2 The local ingredients to eat baguette

Picture 3 Selling baguette along the main street in Vientiane Laos

Picture 4 The Flour " Balloon brand " made in Thailand

Picture 5 the brick oven to bake the baguette in Laos

Picture 6 The sign of baguette infront of Mr. Doung's House, 80 years old

Picture 7 Laos Selling baguette in market



We do not know exactly when bread and baguette were introduced into Indochina. We only know that they were part of French culture that came with French rule over this territory. We can thus only presume that it is a product of French colonialism that testifies to its lingering cultural influence in this part of the world.

The French had a great influence in the food culture of the countries they colonized, particularly those in Indochina Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. This is because France takes great pride in their cuisine and the French are great eaters and inventors of food. During the colonial period they considered it important to introduce their favorite dishes to the local populace. This could be proved by the number of French restaurants in Vientiane during colonial period: there were more French restaurants than those serving local food in this city. In Vietnam today, in particular, we can see, most notably, banh mi (or banh my) or Vietnamese sandwich that is served in a French baguette and often containing pork filling, usually together with pickled carrots, daikon, onions, cilantro, and mayonnaise. . The contrasting flavors and textures of the sandwich, as well as its relatively low cost, make it a popular dish. In Lao people call it “ Khao Jee “ means grilled rice but in Cambodia people call it “Nouam paing” Picture: a Vietnamese woman selling baguette in Hochiminh cityIt is believed, further, that it was the Vietnamese who spread out the making and consuming the bread and baguette into Laos and Cambodia during the colonial period. The Vietnamese who were employed as servants or cooks in French households and restaurants in these countries learned the art of French cuisine, including French bakery. When the French left Indochina, or when these Vietnamese quit their employment in French households or restaurants, they took the art of French cooking with them and helped to further propagate it in this region. Hence, not only in Vietnam, but throughout Indochina, French baguette has been incorporated into the Indochinese food culture.During colonial period there were a number of places or shops selling good baguette around Vientiane. One of them was called Maison Swiss, and another was Freeyearound. Most of these shops were run by Vietnamese. Maison Swiss and Freeyearound were well-known among the middle class people in this city. Now all these shops were pulled down, after their owners had migrated to France and USA following the communist takeover of Laotian government in 1975. However, one can still see small traders selling baguette on bikes with horns to local people in a village. This is a typical style of selling baguette that still exists today.French baguette was introduced to Asia and became a symbol of this region, so people called “baguettes of Asia”. It developed in many forms and shapes. In Vientiane, we find a postcard with a vendor selling baguette, with words displayed on it: “The delicious French baguette”. There is one article on baguette published in Revue de Paris in 1900. In this article the explorer name Auguste Pavie told about his journey in Indochina. He could not get the baguette with pate; so he asked his companions to make baguette for him. He liked it very much: “the rice becomes a loaf with whiteness. It made them forget their habitual food supply.
It is thus not surprising that we see the lasting influence of French eating culture in Laos and other Indochinese countries. In the bread production sector in Laos we still see local bakeries producing large amounts of baguettes in some main cities around the country, especially in Vientiane, the capital city. Again according to the 2006-2008 statistical data from Department of Industry-Commerce of Vientiane Municipality, at present there are about 19 local bread factories in Vientiane. Most of them use brick oven and fire wood, the old French style of baking bread.
An official at the Department of Industry-Commerce in Vientiane said that the number of local baguette factories in Vientiane in particular has increased rapidly in recent years. When Laos came under communist rule, a large number of foreigners left the country. It was a difficult time for Lao people. In particular, there were no foreign experts in Vientiane; so many shops, restaurants and companies were closed. Lao economic and commercial structures were being rearranged and reorganized by new government that implemented a new policy affecting all business sectors including bread production. All companies and enterprises had to be placed under the control of the government. Most business owners in Vientiane were run by Chinese, who had to leave their businesses and properties here and fled to a third country.
There was some significant change in bread producing in Vientiane after 1975 as well. Flour import from France was prohibited, and the USSR became influential in Laos even matters relating to food. In the 1970s throughout Vientiane there were only 3-4 local baguette factories producing bread for the market. Located mostly in the central part of the city, most of the baguette factories were run by Chinese and Vietnamese. It was not until 1990 that the government announced regulations on fire and environmental security; so some factories had to move out of the city, while others had to close down because they found no new area where they could build ovens. Still others were destroyed and replaced by other businesses.
In Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, the baguette did not actually take hold in the food culture of the people of these countries. They generally regard bread as a kind of snack or fast food; it is usually eaten as a breakfast or lunch item, snuffed with locally made pastes and sausages and Asian versions of pickles made from papaya or cucumbers. Sometimes it is eaten with jam or butter; some people just eat it plain with coffee or tea in the morning. Parents can also serve it as a snack for their kids when they are back home from school and have it with milk.
In Laos the plain baguette is not so expensive: it costs about 2000-500 Kip (0.5 US dollar). But when you buy with pastes and vegetable, it costs double the price.In the 1970s the number of baguette bakeries houses in Vientiane rose up. This was due to the increase in number of foreigners from Europe as well as the United States in this city. More restaurants and hotels had to be set up to serve these people particularly ones which served food and drinks favorable to their tastes. In late of 1970s, following the important change to communism in Laos, the Soviet Union became a influence in this country. The Soviets provided all assistance to Laos, particularly in the area of agriculture, in order to build the young and poor nation as a strong communist country.
Among the items in the assistance provided by the Soviet Union was flour. Each year the Soviets sent a big amount of flour 3000 tons to Laos. According to Mr Ki, this flour was donated to Laos for the production of food for the people. At first the flour was unknowingly kept in a warehouse for so long that its quality was adversely affected. The government did not know how to properly do with flour, because Laos did not have yet high technology and experiences; that is, it lacked proper knowledge in using the resource in specific industrial food production. One way to solve this problem was to sell this flour to baguette houses to produce bread; so one official came to discuss with Mr ki on how to turn this flour into use rather left it be spoiled or throw it away. Mr Ki checked at the flour, which was brown flour, and it was possible to make baguette from it. Therefore, he agreed to buy the Russian flour from the government but at a lower price than it might have cost. This kind of flour is normally brown in color. The Russians liked to use it in making bread for soldiers and students in Russia. At first the Lao government tried to distribute bread for the soldiers and students and introduce it to the public to consume. In fact, the working class people, especially after the revolutionary period, at first did not know the baguette and they did not like it much. Some threw it away, and others fed their pig fish and other pets at home with it rather than ate it themselves. A few years later, they began to get familiar with it and it became tasty to the baguette. The brown flour lasted until 1980.Each part of Indochina, as we have seen, has its own culinary traditions. It also had its own unique experience of encountering and adopting French food. It is thus important that we understand this particular experience. The best way to do so from the researcher’s point of view is to let the people in the Indochinese countries, especially Laos, tell their own stories. In this chapter, therefore, we turn to the results from field research, which consisted mainly of interviews with many people.

In Vientiane, the story of Mr. Doung Ngo Huu of Ban Wattaynoi, is typical, if not of those Vietnamese in Laos who had direct experiences of life under French rule, of at least those more or less familiar with the French culinary tradition who have remained to help propagate it to the wider Indochinese population of Indochina. Doung , who is now 80, was born in 1928. He was originally from Hanoi. He came to Laos in 1960. In the early 1960s, he was employed as a pastry chief in a French restaurant called “Setha Palace”. Then, he spent one year, in 1963, as a chef in the canteen of USAID in the Lao capital city. In 1963-1964, he was a chef at the restaurant “ConCord”.
As he told of Laos in those days and how he learned the art of French bakery, there were many Vietnamese in Vientiane, working everywhere, mostly as teachers, servants, chefs, construction contractors, and workers. It is notable that not may Lao lived in Vientiane. Vientiane was the place mostly inhabited by the French and Vietnamese; they ate baguette as part of their food, so more baguette was produced here than in other places in Laos. According Doung, the oldest professional bread bakers in Laos before his time is consisted of Mr. Khai at Samsenthai Road, Mr. Hue at the back of Cultural Hall today, and last one he could not recall the name exactly . All of them were Vietnamese and professional on bread baking , they had worked with the French and learned the art of bakery directly from the latter in Vietnam before they came to Laos.At present time three of them has passed away and no one inherited them . Doung himself learned to bake from Vietnamese Chief who served at the French restaurant “Sethta Palace”. Mr. Charn was the most favored Vietnamese chief for upper class in Vientiane, during the Lao revolutionary 1975 his teacher and family fled to France.
According to the 2006-2008 statistical data of the Department of Industry-Commerce of Vientiane Municipality, Lao PDR , there are about 22 local bakery houses using fire wood through out Vientaine city mostly run by Lao people , if we look back from 1980s there were only 4-5 bread bakery houses in Vientiane . At the first time bread baking was the business for only Chinese and Vietnamese , Mr. Doung , a best and oldest French bread baker of Lao today , said that “I took over the bead baking house from Chinese in 1966 it first run by Chinese merchant ”. He added” Laos has a vast territory but less population live in city l. Vietnam is a more populous country; therefore, many Vietnamese came to live here, in Vientiane before 1945, Vietnamese consisted of 70% of its population; Chinese, who had migrated to Laos to engage mostly in trade, accounted for about 20 %, and the rest 10 % were Lao. Even before 1975 there still were an overwhelming number of these foreign communities in Laos. Most of the elite and upper-class people left Laos after 1975. There were no more upper-class people in major urban areas. However, when the economy recovered, so did gastronomy and culinary expertise. As in the colonial period, a large number of Vietnamese came to Laos to work mostly as artisans, including bakers. This had an important effect on the eating habit and taste of the Lao people. Even people in the countryside or poor people learned to eat bread because of social their new social relationships. Depending on their social networks, the poor in Laos accepted baguette as their food.Another person interviewed by the researcher is Mr Ueng . the first son of Doung, he succeeded to his father and become the best bread baker in Vientaine , he said , his father owned the baking factory in 1966 from a Chinese merchant. Ueng thus learned how to make baguette from his father.According to Ueng, bread before 1975 was better. Its good quality was due to the good quality of flour. During that time flour was directly brought from France, which is the best bread-producing country. Its particular type of flour that is the main material for making bread is T 45 (Type 45).
Ueng said that after 1975 Laos had to use flour imported from Thailand which was not the particular flour for producing or making bread. His father thus needed to try new technique own way by mixing one type of flour with others in order to produce tasty and good bread, or at least as good as possible. and it was quite satisfied for general consumers . This new technique baking style was transmitted to another bread baking store in Vientiane. At present it has become a common way of making bread in the capital city. He added that at the time of the revolution in 1975 there were only 4-5 bread factories in Vientiane. One of these was his father bread factory .According to Ueng, actually baguette is the food of soldiers; it has been modified by Vietnamese people who eat it with pate, pickle, and other ingredients. Some of the ingredients, such as ham and pate from France, are expensive.
The researcher also interviewed Mr. Bernard Prisco, 40, a half Lao-French owner of a French bakery and pastry business in Vientiane. Prisco has told his own story as follows:“I spent four years in France studying in a military academy. When I was there I had to learn cooking myself; no one helped me to cook. It is common for anyone who lives in France alone to learn cooking; otherwise you will have to eat the canned-food from freezer every day”. After graduation he was back home in Laos. He and his friends engaged in a joint business by setting up French-Lao restaurant in 1996 in front of Mixay Temple ( Mekong river area). At that time there were not yet many French restaurants in Vientiane, whereas the number of tourists coming to visit Laos was increasing everyday.The idea of opening a French bakery in Vientiane occurred when his friends visited his restaurant where Lao bread was served on the table. They though it would be better if any restaurant could make real French bread of greater variety and better quality to offer the guests who were from different countries, not just Lao bread. Hence, in 2006, he rented a house just opposite his own restaurant and set up a real French bakery called “Bannetong” which means “the bread with rattan containers. He employed a specialist on bread from France, and he used flour which was made in France. He produced 14 types of bread; the most popular one is baguette. He said: “60 per cent of his customers are Lao who have been to Europe before and the rest are foreigners who have been working with international organizations in Laos.
According to Ueng, at present there are two types of bread produced in Laos: industrially produced bread and home-made bread. Traditionally, the people of Laos do not like to buy bread or baguette at a bakery shop. Therefore, more than half of the baguette he produces is delivered to the main supermarket in the city or to the canteens and shops of vocational schools. He has noted that in all the food that people eat should be of really good quality and satisfactory to them.
Another interviewee is Mr. Somsai Soukthavong, 58, who was born in Thakhek, Khammouan Province, in 1950. Best known by a nick name “Ki”, he is a baker at Ban Khaoliao, and is one of the best bakers in Vientiane. His parents are Vietnamese who moved to live in Laos in 1945.He said, “I started learning to make bread from my elder brother in Vientiane, Mr. Doung. At that time I was around 20 years old, and making bread was an easier way to make money”. When he was about fourteen, he started working at the bread factory of his elder brother. After he had collected enough money, he bought his own bread factory in 1978 from Mr. Khai, an owner of a bread factory located in the Namphou area (Fountain circle). This was very famous area for business and merchandise and people could come here to buy what they wanted from this place at during the colonial time. In 1999 the government issued a regulation on pollution and the environment all over the country. All factories including the bread baking stoves in the city were asked to moved out; therefore, he pulled down his old bread stove and the second bread stove that he built by himself just five years previously. Then he found a new place out side the city at Ban Kaolio, where he constructed a new bread baking stove by his own hands in 2000. Picture : a bread factory house at Ban Sibounheug , Vientiane cityMr. Ki believes that the baking stove of MMF (Mission Militairse Française) at Ban Dongpasak might be the original baking stove made by the French soldier, because all materials were imported from France. For example, the metal covering the entrance of the stove was made with good strong material which could keep the heat inside constantly with a hydrolyte system; the hard thick large bricks were made of natural ingredients mixed with specific chemicals. Inside the stove they put a water pipe to spray out water around the stove. This was a specially made French stove and its cost was definitely so high that it would not be easy for the local people to construct. This original French stove was pulled down five years ago by government; all parts of the stove were destroyed and in its place a luxury government building was erected.
According to Mr. Ki, before 1975 there were only a few main French hotel and restaurants in Vientiane, for example: Maison Suiisse (Pastries), Free Year Round, Café La Paise (Restaurant), La Pagoda (restaurant), Lanexang Hotel, Sethatpalace Hotel, and MMF Restaurant.Mostly the good bread could be found only at these main hotels and restaurants in Vientiane. Most of these restaurants and hotels were owned by either French or Vietnamese. After 1975 all baguette shop owners fled to the third countries: France and USA, and some of these places which were run by private business owners that time were transferred to the government. In a small village we still see people selling baguette on a bike with horn which was famous for local people. This typical style of selling baguette still exists today in Laos.In the 1960s there were only 3-4 bread baking factories in Vientiane. In the 1980s the number of bread baking increased throughout the country up to 10-15, due to the increased number of restaurants, hotels, and shops, especially in Vientiane, to serve the increasing number of foreigners in the city, in particular, Russians, Americans, Germans, and Canadians.According to Mr. Ki, it should be noted here that the consumption of bread and baguette in Laos was also part of the people’s life experience under communist rule. It was not just a colonial legacy. In the latter half of the 1970s, as has been indicated, the growth of Soviet influence came with assistance from the Soviet Union, particularly in the agricultural sector, and part of this assistance was a large amount of flour – more than 3,000 ton of it. The flour donated to the Lao government was meant to replace rice as food for the people. At first, as we have seen, the donated flour was kept in a warehouse. Lao officials did not know how to do with the flour, because Laos under the new government had not yet established industrial factories or food manufacturing facilities; nor did the officials realize that the flour kept in improper conditions could be badly affected. One possible way to deal with the flour was to sell it to bread baking factories to make bread and sell it to local people. The government came to this solution through cooperation with the owners of bread baking factories in Vientiane who were to produce bread for the public and society. The government tried to distribute all bread to local people, soldiers and students living in the city. Laos was at that time experiencing a severe shortage of rice resulting from bad harvests throughout the whole country. After the revolution in 1975 the Lao people in Vientiane were mostly from the countryside; they were rice farmers who did not know about the baguette and they did not want to eat anything except their sticky rice. So, at first, these local people refused to eat bread; they either threw it away or fed their pig fish and other pets at home with it. Only after some years did they begin to get familiar bread and start to eat the baguette more in their own way. In Laos of the post-1975 period, only a few of former elite or educated people still live in Vientiane. Some of the new elite or new Lao people were educated in the Soviet Union and some East European countries. They introduced a new European way to the local people. It was not until 1980 that the donation flour by the Soviet bloc countries to Laos was terminated.
Still another person who was interviewed by the researcher is Mr. Viengkham Somsavath, an owner of a bread factory at Ban Sivilay. He graduated from the Soviet Union in 2000 and now works at the National Statistics Centre. He was married to a Russian woman and they have a son. Viengkham set up a bakery in 2004, as he wanted to spend his time in the evening to earn extra income. He produces bread in response to the demand of the market and he sends the bread he produces to his regular customers in Km 6 and in Dong Doke village. According to this interviewee, there are many bread procedures now; they all need a lot of attention to avoid the risk of losing benefits from running this business. Producing bread takes many hours and some bakeries produce it all night; so some mistakes may occur during the process of bread production. Moreover, producing bread requires a lot of fire wood to heat the natural stove in order to make it delicious. Lao bread is free from any chemical substance so that it can be kept for only one day. Some bakeries have lost profits from running this business and some have faced bankruptcy largely owing to the quality of the products. That is, the bread is not beautiful and burnt and some bakery owners need to sell their products at a lower price. Lao bread is anyway unique in comparison with bread of other countries, because it is soft when eating and that is why Lao bakery still remains in business. “I would like to have a patent for Lao bread registered because its shape and taste are different from the bread of other countries”, Viengkham added.
The researcher also interviewed Mr. Cerlic, 35, a baker from France working at La Terrace Restaurant and Le Bannetong Bakery at Mixay village. Cerlic received a certificate on bread bakery in Paris; after that he was employed at this restaurant in Laos in 2006. He said, “The difference between French baguette and Lao one lies in flour and salt used in producing this kind of food. In Paris the production of baguette does not require a lot of ingredients and components. The result is that French baguette is more intense in color (brown) and that it is not as salty as Lao baguette. The shapes of the French and Lao baguette are also different”.
The oldest person interviewed by the researcher is General Tham Sayasithsena who is now 94 years old (born in 1916). He was a soldier and the oldest member in the revolutionary movement. He both wrote the declaration of Lao independence and created the Lao national flag that is in use today. With regard to the eating of bread in Laos, he offered the following view: “At the beginning, the French taught Vietnamese to make bread and other kinds of food for them. Then the French took these people to Laos after France took control of this country in 1893”. Laos during that time had only few markets and food shops for the French in Vientiane. One such restaurant in the city where the French could have their meal was “Moline” near the Women Union. Other French restaurants were the one at Ban Kao Yoth and the one lying in front of the Mixay Temple. French food that was famous in Indochina included Champagne, sausage, wine, and ragout. Moreover, there were two areas in Vientiane where the Vietnamese communities were located during the colonial period, namely, Ban Kuadinh and Ban Anou. Now these areas have been transformed into the city’s business centers.
The researcher learned a lot of Somphavanh Inthavong, who works as an advisor to the Lane Xang Mineral Company. He finished his upper secondary school in France in 1956. Then, he furthered his education in engineering at the college level in Switzerland for five years. He was back in Vientiane in 1961. He said,“The national characteristics are reflected in culture. Baguette belongs to French culture, which has its own characteristics. French baguette is thus unique: it is different from baguettes in other countries…This might be because the French make baguette in their own country or probably because they make it in their own way”.
According to Somphavanh, Vietnamese ate more baguette than the people in Laos and Cambodia. The Vietnamese often ate it with their local mouyor (preserved pork) and pickles. The eating of baguette can thus be said to have started in Vietnam before it later spread to the neighboring countries like Laos and Cambodia. However, even in Vietnam, baguette was popular among the people in the urban areas, in particular the educated class. Farmers in the country mostly did not know baguette as they still have their own rice.During the colonial period hardly any Lao could communicated in French. The French thus found it necessary to bring with them some professionals and servants from Vietnam: these included translators, teachers, chefs, and clerks. To be in close contact with the French and to enjoy French support, some rich families changed their Lao nationality the French one. The Souvanavong was one such family who was strongly influenced by French lifestyle land culture. Somphavanh believed that apart from French influence international assistance at the time of hardships contributed to bread consumption. FAO and UN assistance to Laos consisted of, among other things, flour to alleviate the people’s hunger. Flour was thus sent to factories to make bread and noodles and then distributed to the people. The people in Laos came to adopt baguette in this way.
Another resourceful interviewee is Mr. Khamphan Simmalavong, former vice-minister of foreign affairs, former ambassador to Thailand (1977-1990), and former ambassador to France. He was sent to France to study when he was only 13 years old. In his view, the influence of French culture came to Laos through three channels: politics, economics, and culture (language and religion). The French administrative system was different from that of the British. When France conquered any country it wanted to assimilate the conquered people to French culture. We can classify the French people in Laos into three categories: the soldiers who were stationed in their barracks, the administrators, and the business people or investors. During the colonial period members of the local rich families that enjoyed close relationship with, and trust of, the French had the privilege of going to study in France without any screening. For the purpose of effective rule, the French needed to use local people more effectively by sending some key people to study in France.Khamphan told of his experience of French culture during his stay in France as the Lao ambassador to this country: All receptions and official functions he attended usually included baguette as a necessary and most important item in meals. During his mission in France, he was most familiar with baguette and it became something very usual when one had absorbed it culturally. He also gave three reasons why people of Indochina ate baguette as one of their own food items:1) A new food 2) Social value, and3) Reception protocol.Eating baguette became popular in Laos in the 1980s. The baguette in Laos is different from those in Vietnam and Cambodia, because Lao baguette is made mostly the people in the city, and the people in the city are mostly French. That is also why Lao baguette has better quality and taste than its counterparts in, say, Ho Chi Minh City or Phnom Penh.
The researcher interviewed several other persons. One of them is Dr. Bernard Gay, a researcher and expert at the Ministry of Information and Culture of Laos. He is from the Institut de Recherché sur le Sud-Est Asiatique (France) IRSEA-CNRS/ Universite de Provence. As he told this researcher“Before only the upper class and educated people, not those of lower social echelons, ate bread in Laos. In France, at a big restaurant when you order the meal they will provide you some bread together with other food without charge, but in Germany and Italy and some countries you have to pay for this supply of bread”.
According to Mr. Houmphan Rattavong, baguette was at first served only for soldiers and people in the military, but its consumption expanded step by step to members of the general public. It might have come to Laos with missionaries in 17th century and then spread throughout Indochina after the colonization of this area by the French. Houmphan also offered his speculation about the advantage and disadvantage for health of eating rice and baguette. Are people in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia short because of eating rice? Why are people in the North taller – some of them more than two meters tall? Is this because they eat different kind of cereals? Of course we to do more study to understand this difference.
Another interviewee, Mr. Bounthanong Somsaipol, is a freelance writer and journalist. He described that the French adapted themselves to the local traditions of the countries they had conquered quite well. At the same time, they brought ragou stake, café bread and butter to these countries. In Laos they applied their building and construction techniques to Lao style, as was evident in the temples as well as residential buildings. France chose Pakse as the location of its administrative office, whereas Pakxong in the south was chosen as a recreational area for French people. The marks and characteristics of French tradition could also be seen in the “Latanier tree” (mahogany in English) they planted along the roads, such as in Pakxou, Markxou and Karam.According to Bounthanong, it is possible that the servants or followers of the French, or those who worked closely with the latter, at Kong City in 1904 were the first to make the baguette first. These people then spread the eating of baguette to the general public. But different parts of Laos have different ways of eating baguette. In Luang Prabang the people eat bread with corn and star eggs, while the bread produced in Vientiane is of more standard quality than bread in other parts of the country. In Laos, bread has become a valuable gift for the people.
Mr. Khamphao Phonekeo, who was also interviewed by the researcher, spent four years studying in France. Back in Laos, he started his work at the Ministry of Education in 1962, where he remained for about 10 years. He was later posted as cultural counselor in France for three years. He came back to Vientiane in 1975.Khamphao criticized French policy, which, with its stress on cultural rather than economic development, was different from that of the British. To preserve local culture, a number of high-ranking officials and members of the royal family were sent to study in France. According to Khamphao, this educational experience in France had a profound influence on the outlooks and way of life of these people. He said, “When I was studying in France, I felt like French. When I came back to work and met with local people, I learned that something was not the same as what I had thought it was”.Generally, French policy was to encourage local people to preserve their own way of life with its traditional beliefs and practices. With the arrival of French culture including the eating of bread, its influence was found mainly among the upper-class groups those educated in France or working closely with the French, as well as the merchants and businessmen in the capital city. The poor local people including rice farmers in the countryside hardly knew anything about bread.
Finally, the researcher interviewed Mr. Gillbert Dubus, an 80 year-old French man born in Hanoi. He moved to Laos when he was only 8 years old. Now he lived in Pakse, Champasak Province. Dubus confirmed that Lao people learned to make bread from the Vietnamese. “Bread definitely came with the French military. When they came to the city, and saw the children, they gave bread to the children, who liked it very much”.Apart from those resource persons interviewed by the researcher, many other people contributed their own stories about the baguette. One of them was a consumer. He was a customer waiting for the bus at a bus station. He said that he started eating baguette when he knew how to eat glutinous rice. He remembered that when he was young many Lao people suffered from flooding from the Mekong River. Also during the civil war a lot of people migrated from Xiengkhuong Province to Vientiane. At such times of hardships and sufferings the government distributed bread to the local people who were in trouble. Bread was also distributed to children who came for health checks and vaccine injection from international health agencies.
The researcher interviewed a hotel manager, Ms Knok, 48, at Lane Xang Hotel in Vientiane (one of the famous hotels and restaurants for the French people during the colonial period). It is the place where the statue of Auguste Pavie, the most powerful and highly respected French in Laos, is located. According to Knok, the hotel orders bread from local bakeries everyday about 20-30 loaves for the main breakfast menu. The guests, especially Europeans, like to eat bread with coffee and fried eggs. On important occasions, particularly when high-ranking government officials visit the hotel, she serves them with expensive bread from foreign bakeries such as Bannetong, Le Croissant, and the Scandinavian bakery. Since the government adopted the policy of opening Laos to the outside world for investment, cultural exchanges and transmittances have taken place. Local Lao people are now more or less adapting themselves to the modern way of life and the western style has been adopted in their daily life to show off their status. For example, organizing a wedding party at a big hotel instead of at home, and serving bread with ragout along side local dishes at such party have become part of life now. The hotel has to order 200-400 loaves of bread for one such wedding party. Apart from Lane Xang, other big hotels include Sethatpalace and Lao Plaza Hotel, which are owned by foreigners. These hotels, which are well known among Europeans and businessmen, have their own baking facilities as well as bakers and chefs from foreign countries like France and Germany.As today high technology and social development the local bread baking house was gradually replace by modern machine which we can find at the big hotel , restaurant and cafés shop . Base on the Statistic data survey, in Vientiane there are about 10 to 15 modern bread baking house using electricity oven , Invientiane there are only few famous foreigners bakeries , one is Scandinavian sandwich shop and other one is Le Bannetong Bakeries and Joma that is so well known among European people.
Finally, the researcher interviewed sellers. Miss Souk, 35, a trader at Km 6, said that Lao bread is popular among Thai tourists who come to visit Khaysone Phomvihane Museum. Sometimes around 5-6 buses come to stop at Km 6 to buy bread from the traders there. In addition, Lao people who go to other provinces buy bread to eat on their way or as a gift for their relatives. In fact, bread is not the main food of Lao people. Most people eat it as a snack; some eat it as their breakfast in a rush to work in the morning.