Thursday, May 12, 2011


It's really odd that I haven't put up a post about food here in the 9 months that I've been writing. Food is such a big part of my life and I know you all know it. Let me start with saying that I am probably no longer the girl that can go to the bakery, then sushi, then applebees, and then white castle in a single afternoon though I would like to do that loop again with some of my fave girls from home. This morning I had delicious pumpkin spice pancakes for breakfast...and I couldn't finish them. There were only two! (No, my host  mom didn't make them. They were from a western restaurant in the city)

I think most of you know that I will eat pretty much anything and I have eaten pretty much anything. I'm always offended by tv shows about "gross food" because most of those foods come from China and are on my list of favorite foods. Stewed pigs feet, tripe, chicken feet at dim sum, chicken gizzard, fried frogs. All delicious. Don't judge. I think in my lifetime I've eaten at least three different kinds of brain. (Which, with the discovery of prions I would no longer recommend.) Here in Cambodia, everyone eats mashed fermented fish. Which sometimes I can't stand. It's in the same category as japanese fermented beans and stinky tofu (though I love stinky tofu). But, sometimes it's delicious. I really only like it hot. Sometimes people eat it cold and it's just too fishy for me.

I also eat a lot of fish. Sometimes I have 5 different kinds of fish during the course of the day. And sometimes I can't take it anymore. The bones. The bones. Especially when a small one just sticks straight up into your gums and you can't get it out. Most meals consist of a fish based soup and a shit ton of rice. LIKE A LOT. Not those wimpy chinese bowls of rice. I'm talking a dinner plate of white rice and then you HAVE to refill. One dish is never enough or my host mom will be offended. The soups are not bad. My fam knows I like veggies which they never stop telling people. Usually it's just a fishy veggie soup and that's pretty good. On days with pork or beef I make sure to clean my plate so she knows I like it. It's all about subtlety. Once in a while I get stirfried veggies too. Another staple, at least in my household, is salted dried fish. It is exactly what it sounds like. Hard dried fish, heated over a fire, and it is super salty. Eaten with rice, as always. Sometimes that's all people will eat. I can't do it.

Rice porridge. A staple of mine since childhood, but with a twist. Here, you can buy rice porridge with the works in the market. Usually cooked in fish or chicken soup. Chunks of meat, organs like liver, fried minced garlic, add some pepper. Pretty delicious. But, the plain white rice porridge you make at home...different story. In America, there was nothing I loved better on a Sunday morning than heating up some leftover rice, adding water and then eating it with some side dishes. Plenty of pickled veggies, fermented bean curd, stirfried edamame with pickled cabbage, homemade sour cabbage and turnip, kimchi. God, writing this is making me sooooo homesick. Here, you HAVE to make porridge from scratch. No using leftover rice. Which means it takes like an hour. Then all you eat with it is dried salted fish or sometimes just soy sauce. And not even good soy sauce. No kikkoman's here man. I was sick two days ago and my host mom is super nice and kept giving me sugary drinks and made me some plain porridge cause I just couldn't stomach anything else. I would have traded my computer for some of my dad's stirfried edamame with pickled cabbage. MY COMPUTERRRRR. Or some plain chinese noodles with salt in a light chicken broth. yea, the chicken broth is a stretch.

I will probably talk about food again now that I've opened the flood gates. Be prepared.


  1. Ate it this past Sunday! Probably some leftovers in the fridge...

  2. Hi Helen,

    How are you? My name is LaToya, and I have just been invited to serve in Cambodia, and I am just trying to learn as much as possible about the country. Is it possible that you could give me some personal insight from your own experiences? I would really appreciate any insight you can provide me with.Thanks in advance for your assistance,