Monday, January 30, 2012

Khmer cuisine and the state that I am in...

They great couple running the Siem Reap Rooms Guesthouse asked whether we were in an adventurous mood for dinner. So they recommended a place with no English menu and asked their staff to write down the names of the dishes in Khmer. The place was just off the main touristy area of Siem Reap, the waiters spoke no English and we handed them over our menu. This was one of the dishes we ordered:

beef with ants
It was quite dark at the place, so you could not really see what you were eating. Anyway: Beef with ants is delicious, the ants taste slightly sour, almost lemonish. It may just be difficult to recreate the dish at home...

Took another cooking class organized by the Frizz restaurant in Phnom Penh. Here's the menu:

banana flower salad with chicken

fish amok

another version of sticky rice and mango

Finally after a lot of travelling I reached the beach in Sihanoukville and indulged in seafood. It is also the winner of the fastest visa ever issued competition: got my visa for Vietnam in 10 minutes at the Vietnamese consulate there, and that included filling out the forms.

Seafood in Sihanoukville
When the French came to Cambodia they settled in Kep and called it Kep sur mer. The village is situated in the area of Kampot where they grow Kampot pepper. And there's a lot of crab in the sea. Hence the village's signature dish is crab with Kampot pepper. Go to the crab market and order one for $5, they take it right out of the water and serve it to you with green Kampot pepper. It doesn't get any fresher than this!
They also love big concrete statues in Cambodia, almost every roundabout has one. Kep has a crab made of concrete. A blue one.

Crab statue in Kep

Kampot pepper

and Kep's signature dish:

crab with fresh green Kampot pepper

Now regarding the state that I am in:

I don't know what day of the week it is. Sometimes I have to think twice to be sure what town I'm in. Or what the name of the country is. When I get to a new place and walk the streets I look out for familiar faces. Most of the times I find someone I met before. I am not certain if it's kip, riel or dong I'm paying with. I say “No, thank you” without looking what somebody is trying to sell me. It is normal when I pay that the shopkeeper walks out and goes to find a neighbour who can break that 100000 note. I see where the food comes from and eat it anyway. And most of the time it's delicious. Everything less than 10 hours is a short ride on a bus or train. I ask people I've met five minutes ago whether they can watch my bag while I go to the ATM for ten minutes. I travel with people I met two hours ago for the next three days. Whatever is on the table belongs to everyone. We like it. Life is good.

1 comment:

Jana said...

another great story, thank you for these yummy food shots and interesting blog entry! greetings from very white tulipland, have been busy ice-skating for a week now:-))