Throughout recorded history, the Hmong have remained identifiable as Hmong because they have maintained their own language, customs, and ways of life while adopting some of the ways of the country in which they live.   In the 1960s and 1970s many Hmong were secretly recruited by the American CIA to fight against communism during the Vietnam War and fought valiantly against the Viet Cong.  This is the beginning of their story, and their resettlement in the US.

In his book, this is one you must read,  “ A GREAT PLACE TO HAVE A WAR ” Joshua Kurlantzick really explains in detail the establishment of the CIA and the real story behind the incredible “ Operation Momentum”, President Eisenhower’s last major movement in the White House.  

It was Eisenhower’s fear if LAO fell to the Communists, then Thailand, Viet Nam, Taiwan,  would fall too and then the Philippines.  The so-called “ Domino effect".  It would, as explained, open the door to India.  And the information in the book is very descriptive and almost 50 pages of acknowledgements verify the information given.

At a time and place when both Congress and the American people knew little of the largest paramilitary operation by the CIA and kept under wrap till recently.  It was President Kennedy who carried forth President Eisenhower’s beliefs and Laos received more attention than Viet Nam.  It wasn’t till 2000 and 2010 till the real stories of the Secret War came to the surface. The LAO government repressed journalism and even for the press visiting parts of LAO and talking to anyone about the war.

If you watched Anthony Bordain’s visit to LAO on his award winning CNN show, the LAO journalist and his wife is hesitant to speak about things or subjects the “ handlers”  are listening to while sharing a meal with the late Anthony Bordain.  Even after a few drinks, words are very carefully chosen.  Microphones are probably hidden in the salt shakers.  His trademark, a love of good wine and beer to accompany good food, as it is with many high end chefs, alcohol is part of cooking,  
Beef Bourguignon without a good red French wine would be absurd and heresy. 

He was into and starting his tenth season, he does know what he is talking about.  I am a fan of his, his combination of exploration, unique cooking, story telling and a cold beer (spend your life in a hot kitchen, a cold beer is a sacred treasure) suits my palate.  

His interviews in LAO today will open your eyes to a land of beauty and enchantment ravaged by a savage brutal regime and war.... Today struggling to bury the past and move on.   To me it appears to be a long way off,  appearing very difficult.  Communist regimes have two speeds slow and oppression. Even those in this country, mostly the refugees lucky enough to get out, are  in their minds are still fighting a war almost half a century ago.

In another scene when you see the color of the MeKong River you readily understand the safest thing to drink is the following.  LAO beer, French wine, nothing of a local brew, anything alcohol in the 93% range, I do not recommend any water not bottled or sealed and rinse the bottle off before you drink or open it.  Make sure the seal is not broken.

MY THOUGHTS OF ANTHONY BORDAIN    Sadly he passed on June 2018

Someone said on CNN, “ Anthony Bourdain admitted his own shortcomings in a way other men were afraid to”.  He didn’t want credit for it, he just wanted to be better.  Spot on. I loved and looked forward to his shows, he brought forth a unique style, through passion and love, through frank communication, an understanding and brilliant simple showcasing of what others have contributed to this world through customs, traditions and necessity using food as a medium.

Even the most controversial shows in Communist Countries like Lao, and Viet Nam which I am quite familiar with, as the real thing, right on the bullseye having worked with some of those people.   He made the show not about himself but of those who were his friends and guests.  Music and food are common denominators, they are the bridge builders of humanities and sharing with others.

I think the entire world was a canvas for him, and he painted places and showcased others so they may be appreciated.  He will be truly missed as in this day and age of greed and self indulgent hypocrites, liars, uncertainty, insecurity, hate, isolation and popularism, negativism, and prejudice brought forth by people it seems with no passion or love.  He was a light on when parts of the night were darkest.  He brought forth good and the Lord was pleased...