We get asked this question all the time: "What do you guys eat over there?" I suppose every missionary probably gets that question. Since we just had a church potluck, I decided to take this occasion to talk about what we eat in Cambodia.
In case you hadn't figured it out yet, those are chicken heads in the above picture. Last summer when my parents and cousin came over for a visit, the church all worked together to put on a wonderful welcome meal for them. I took this picture while the ladies were preparing the meal. They made chicken curry, which is one of our favorites. Now, I really don't care for the way they do some things (like letting pots simmer for hours under a bird-filled tree or cutting up all the meat and vegetables while sitting outside on the ground), but the finished product is usually really good. There are numerous Khmer foods that are absolutely delicious!
But I know when someone asks, "So, what do you guys eat over there?" they are not really asking about the delicious foods. They are usually asking about the bizarre and strange stuff. There are plenty of those things here! There are deep-fried tarantulas, duck embryos, crickets, grasshoppers, blood soup, fried sparrows, and a host of other lovely choices:) In the past I have had some people not believe me about some of these things.
Well, it just so happens that the Travel Channel did a 45 minute program recently about the bizarre foods of Cambodia. If you have the time, I encourage you to watch this program. I think many of you would really enjoy it. Besides seeing the foods, this is also one of the best portrayals of Cambodia I have ever seen with regards to the people, the traffic, the religion, the markets, etc. It is really well done. Click here for part 1. On this part you will see the tarantulas being caught, cooked, and eaten.Click here for part 2. (Note: The host uses the Lord's name in vain at 2:59 and 3:17) On this part you will see the host eat a duck embryo and other things. Click here for part 3. (Note: You may want to press mute at 3:53) On this part you will see several people eating many kinds of bugs, snakes, and blood soup. Click here for part 4. (Note: Again, you may want to press mute at 3:46) On this part you will see some Khmer food being prepared by a professional chef, then you will see the host go fishing and eat the fish with a family who lives on the river. Click here for part 5. This is the conclusion of the program.
This program by the Travel Channel is not being overly sensational. Most of these "foods" are eaten regularly or semi-regularly by average Cambodians. But Cambodians also eat some normal foods. Rice is a daily staple, and they also like noodles and bread. For meat they like to eat pork, chicken, beef, fish, and a few other things. They eat a lot of vegetables here, but most are vegetables that you have never heard of. They also have many kinds of fruit here like pineapples, bananas, mangos, jack fruit, and many others that you have also never heard of.
Here are some pictures from our church potluck last Sunday.