Stephanie ChanthavongDecember 2nd, 2009Cultural Artifact – CULTURAL COOKIE JARThe word “hourdt” in the Laotian language refers to a bamboo rice basket. As a child, at the dinner table, I would study the pattern and trace my finger along the lines, and get lost in the weaving of the polished beige strips of bamboo. They make perfect columns and rows of V’s that form a flawless herringbone pattern also observable in the coat of a businessman passing you on the street or a brick pathway in a garden. The basket alone has a stale odor: a mix between musty wood and cigar ashes. However, paired with the aroma of steaming-hot sticky rice, a sweet, thick, savory fragrance arises. This scent will always remind me of home-cooked Laotian dinners.Sometimes when I crave a little snack, I sneak into the pantry, grab a ball of rice from the basket and sprinkle it with salt. Many of my friends enter my house, and feel
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