They’re seemingly unavoidable on Instagram these days: photos of bright yellow egg yolks nestled in a fluffy bed of egg whites, like the sun framed by billowy clouds. They’re called cloud eggs, and they’re pretty enough to look like a taste of heaven … which is probably why people are obsessively whipping them up and sharing their pictures on social media.
Yet the latest food fad du jour is actually a modern spin on a nearly 400-year-old recipe.
“They are basically a very, very old dish. It’s essentially something called Eggs in Snow, which the French have been making for centuries. And it’s suddenly taking off on Instagram,” says Daniel Gritzer, the culinary director at Serious Eats.
He points to a recipe for Oeufs à la Neige (eggs in snow), in Le Cuisinier François, a seminal cookbook published in 1651, just as France was beginning a revolution in cookery that would make it the culinary leader of the world for centuries.
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, it’s traditional to break the fast in mosques and homes. In fact, you’re supposed to be in congregation with others.
“It’s almost like the Christmas for Muslims,” jokes Omar Salha. “When you have on Christmas day everyone gathered with family members—it just doesn’t seem right that during Ramadan you’re breaking fast alone.”
When Salha was a graduate student in his native London, he felt especially bad for his classmates who were far from home, and left on their own during Ramadan. So with a handful of donated cookies and chips (or “biscuits” and “crisps” if you’re feeling British), Salha started what he called Open Iftar. Students from many different countries sat down in a park, and broke bread together.
While the event was initially started for students, many far from their homes in Muslim-majority countries, it quickly expanded — incorporating people of different faiths, or no faith at all, or those who just happened to be passing by. Since that first event in 2011, Salha has worked with groups launching Open Iftars around the world, hosting tens of thousands of people—from Turkey to Canada, the U.K. to Zambia. He has also extended it to a larger organization, the Ramadan Tent Project, which does charitable events throughout the year.
Hello–I’m half Lao, half White. My mom immigrated here from Laos in 1980, when she was around 8/9 years old.
A lot of Lao beauty standards are very Eurocentric (and thus colorist), due to the colonialism present at the time. Big eyes, pale skin, and small noses are desirable, all of which are not common to Lao. We have big, flat noses, light to dark brown skin (or mixed kids like me, who really good at tanning), and small eyes. The pale skin is the most harmful–things ranging from lighter makeup than natural to straight-up mild bleach in lotions or creams.
In my opinion, Lao food is the best stuff on the planet. A lot of SE Asian food is similar, but not the same. However, I’ve found that the Lao and Thai have the spice kicked up to an 11. My mom is an amazing cook, having learned from her parents. Some of my favorite things to eat are laab, sticky rice, grilled chicken, mango sticky rice, papaya salad (literally the SPICIEST THING I HAVE EVER EATEN. No joke), eggrolls, springrolls, and my grandma’s homemade beef jerky.
One of the first things we’ll do, and I’ve found is true for most other Lao and Thai people I’ve met, is offer someone food if they’re over at our house. Hospitality, hospitality.
Laos is mainly a victim to geography and circumstance. Without an outlet to the sea, they’re pretty much cornered every time a conflict comes round. We’ve been colonized by the French, so recently that many of my grandpa’s formal papers are in French as well as Lao.
My personal family history is very interesting, too. Due to the political upheaval in Laos, caused by the Vietnam war and a load of other problems, my grandparents decided it was best to flee the country. All of their kids were born in Laos, and when they escaped, the youngest was two years old. They escaped in the night over the Mekong River into Thailand, risking death by drowning in the river, swollen by the Rainy Season, or being shot by both Lao and Thai border guards. They were in Thailand for several months, then sent to the Philippines, and after a year in refugee camps, finally arrived in California (where I was born). Because of how young they were when they left, my uncles and mom can’t read or write Lao, but they all speak it fluently. My grandparents lived there until this past year.
Family is important in Laos, but also pretty loose. “Family” could be anyone. People who grew up in the same village, or maybe old time friends, could be considered family. In fact, for ten years I grew up thinking that I had an extra set of second cousins when we weren’t even related at all. One of my great ??? grandparents had 11 children. My grandpa comes from a patchwork family with several different mothers, having at least 10 children.
Because of my Swedish last name, people know that I’m half white, half something else, but they usually can’t pin it down. I lived the first three years of my life in California, surrounded by my grandparents, uncles, and attended a Lao-speaking Christian church. When we moved to D.C., the Lao population was significantly lesser. There are lots of other ethnic groups here, making the diversity one of my favorite things about D.C., but very few Lao. Sometimes it feels like I’m not Asian enough to participate in spaces for PoC, like I’m intruding. But I also know that I’m not 100% white, and that being biracial makes me no less of either than the next.
My parents both speak Lao, my mom because she was raised in it, and my dad because of his missionary work. He can read and write, and speak fairly well. None of us kids can speak, read, or write, but we can understand small bits and pieces and little phrases, but not enough for conversation.
Things I’d like to see less of
Biracial and Asian fetishism is definitely annoying.
In Asian circles, I’d like to see waaaaaay less colorism and antiblackness. Just because we’re also not white, doesn’t mean we get a free pass on racism toward other groups.
In Western media, I hate the white savior complex, “Smart Asian” stereotype, and blatant forms of racism (“ching chong” ring a bell?). Something more minor, but still annoying, is “can you say something in (insert language)?” because they’re usually wrong, and say Korean or Vietnamese (I’M NEITHER) and because that question is so painfully vague. I could call your mother a water buffalo, for all you know.
Things I’d like to see more of
SE Asian representation in general. We tend to be sidelined, or ignored. I wish there were more SE Asian creators out here, for us to finally have our spotlight.