Reporter: elan of life food and for the link

Reporter: elan of life food and for the link

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What kind of connection does food make? What understanding and what kind of reflection of the world can we discover by sharing a meal, inviting us to sit at the family table, drink tea, share what is close – because it will always be offered? Food conveys what words cannot convey and establishes trust, in fact: who can refuse food offered and shared, even from the poorest?

What a stupor to arrive in the cultural cradle of rice, where I meet people, old people who don’t eat rice and especially children who don’t know what rice is, don’t know the taste of rice. They do not know what the culinary cultural matrix of their civilization looks like. Children who do not know rice in Asia ?

What role does it have for journalists, whose job it is to describe, understand and report what they saw “on the ground”, in the countries they visit, including during times of great tension and conflict? Like the inhabitants of these countries, he too must eat to survive. These meals often turn out to be a source of connections and encounters.

With Cyril Payen, journalist, senior reporter for France 24. Correspondent for 25 years in Southeast Asia, he followed the main conflicts of the last 30 years, and those that marked these last years, in the Middle East, especially in Yemen, in Ethiopia, or recently in Afghanistan. Cyril Payen published in 2007: Laos, the forgotten war, by Cyril Payen, published by Robert Laffont.

We have arrived, the road is to the end of hell. And what marks above all is this constant smell of cooking. Since those people, the Hmong, hunted for boiled roots all day. They only do one thing : to hide and eat, something that is not necessarily edible. The only routine is to eat.

“The Forgotten War”. © Philip Blenkissop

For further

The Secret War in Laosreporting by Cyril Payen and Grégoire Deniau for the show correspondent : The Secret War in Laos, correspondent – Dailymotion video

– To follow Cyril Payen on the networks: Cyril Payen – France 24 Burma: the unfailing resistance – Reporters (

– About French culture, in October 2022: Return from Burma / Tigray, hope for “cessation of hostilities” (

– INA Archive: François Ponchelet, Radio Europe 1 correspondent, covers the capture of Saigon by Vietnamese soldiers

The secret of the Vietnamese, by Kim Thuy, Marabut Editions.

This year, for the first time, in a country that prides itself on being one of the world’s rice bowls, Hmong people have starved to death. I have always believed that the abundance of natural resources, the charity and sharing advocated by Buddhism will save the region from famine. But nothing grows where the sun never breaks through. And you don’t cultivate when you are being chased : Laos, the forgotten warby Cyril Payen.

A Taiwanese moment.
A Taiwanese moment. © Cyril Payen

Music programming

Lung Ky Mao, from Carabao

indian song, by Jeanne Moreau

– In the credits, inserted a song Malaysia Hotel from The Ruined Mouse.


Som Tam, a totally addictive Thai green papaya salad.

For 4 people

1 green papaya, 6 to 12 small peppers (optional), 1 carrot, 4 small tomatoes, 3 tablespoons fish sauce, 4 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon palm sugar, 3 tablespoons peanuts.

Peel the papaya and cut it in half lengthwise, remove the seeds with a spoon, then rinse with clean water and then dry carefully. Save the seeds.
Grate the papaya and carrot into thin strips and set aside. Grind the peppers and garlic in a mortar until you get the consistency of a paste.
Add papaya and carrot.
Combine the sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and stir into the mixture.
Mash one last time, mix the ingredients well. Cut the tomatoes in half and mix them into the salad. Add ground peanuts. Mix well.
The dish is ready, you can serve it with Chinese cabbage and other crunchy vegetables (this calms the heat of the chili) and sticky rice.

Book cover
Cover of “Laos, the Forgotten War” by Cyril Payen. © Robert Laffont


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