This campaign was born from the mispronunciation of the national dish of Laos called laab. You may have seen it spelled laap, lahb, laap, and larb. Many people mispronounce it when they see larb because they think there is a hard “r” sound in the word. Laab is pronounced with no “r” but with a long “a” vowel and soft “b” sound.
It all started with me posting on Instagram and it spiraled into many people speaking up about how the word has always bothered them. It is beautiful to see people passionately speaking up and also confronting and educating people about Lao food.
1. To encourage people to correctly pronounce laab. I understand there are various dialects in Laos, there is no hard “r” sound which the spelling “larb” is most commonly pronounced and that has trickled into a mass wave of mispronunciation and plenty of cringe moments. We can all agree that ລາບ is the right way to spell it if the whole world knew Lao script. I think of how the impact of colonization has impacted the country Laos, our food, and our people. This is my act of reclaiming what I can and giving voice to the community. 30 plus years of having colonizers take the dish and tell us how to spell things is not what I’m about.
2. To acknowledge the origins of laab. It came from Laos and is the national dish of Laos. With wars and colonization, this dish was taken into neighboring countries and then made popular in the Western world. It does not make it any less Lao. Acknowledging food history is crucial in understand and loving Lao food.
3. To create dialogue and center and uplift Lao food. All too often our little but mighty community does not get credit for the impact our food has made in the world. I invite all perspectives to the table and give the power to the community in deciding how their food should be seen. I want people to continue talking about Lao food and truly bring it to the forefront without having to dilute our cuisine. Food is power.
How to support #notlarb
1. Repost and share any of the #notlarb posts. Over 500 have reposted. Over 2k have liked. Over 10k have seen it. Let’s keep it going.
2. Cook laab and post it with #laab #notlarb. By not using other hashtags, you are uplifting and showing people how you want it to be pronounced.
3. Confront and friendly correct people that pronounce it with the hard “r” sound.
4. Go eat at your local Lao restaurants and order laab. Pronounce it right and show the waiter you know what’s up.
If you support this campaign and can support it financially, please consider purchasing a laab not larb shirt here: https://my-store-b84bf2.creator-spring.com/listing/laab-not-larb?product=2