The butcher's aisle at Coles or Safeway is all styrofoam and clingwrap, tidy cuts of pink and red product, with nothing resembling an animal in sight.
The butcher's aisle at the main market in Luang Prabang, by contrast, affirms the fact that meat indeed emanates from living beasts with teeth and flesh which bleed and die. Perhaps my grandmother, who grew up in times when we westerners were not so fussy about which animal bits we consumed, could identify the head above and suggest what could be done with it in a kitchen. I can't.
These gelatinous blood cakes shine with an odd allure. They, too, look manufactured and far removed from their origins. Of course, the colour gives them away. I know what can happen here. They are divided into smaller clumps and added to soups in the region or diced and stir-fried with vegetables. Strangely dull and inoffensive, I have to report.