Earlier this year I had the honor of chaperoning five Cambodian kids in SoCal through the Cambodian Children’s Fund (an organization that helps almost 900 children in some of Cambodia’s most destitute communities). It was an eye opening experience that made me recognize how truly blessed we are here in America. It was also a revealing visit on the culinary front as I discovered so much about Cambodian cuisine and culture.
(And in the spirit of the Holiday season if you’re interested in donating to the Cambodian Children’s Fund (a non-profit = a tax write off) you can do so here. These are kids who before they found CCF were scrounging through trash dumps from sunup to sundown in the hopes of making fifty cents a day to help support their families. Every little bit helps so take that $5 Latte money and Pay It Forward. It’s the Holidays!)
And without further ado, here are a couple of factoids that were gleaned during my Cambodian adventure!
- The staple of a Cambodian meal is rice. The country has lots of waterways (including the Mekong, Sap, and Bassac rivers, along with the nearby Gulf of Thailand) so fresh fish and prawns are very popular in dishes. Beef, pork, chicken, and duck are also popular, but more expensive so less often used in dishes.
- Some Cambodian delicacies include tarantulas, locusts, and snakes.
- Along with traditional Khmer (the local culture of the country) Cambodia cuisine draws heavily on the food traditions of their Thai neighbors and Chinese residents.
- Cambodian is sometimes referred to as “similar to Thai but without the spiciness.” But due to the greasiness of Americanized food (Chinese) and the spiciness (Thai) the five kids were more inclined towards cleanliness of Vietnamese foods.
- In Cambodia soup is served as an accompaniment to almost all main courses, but not before them as in the West.
- In Cambodia there are no designated breakfast food (like we have in America). Truthfully the kids thought it was crazy we had certain (heavy) foods that we only ate one time a day. In Cambodia the most popular breakfast is rice noodle soup.