Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hot 'n' Cold

Oh Cambodia. If I wrote an ode to Cambodia it would probably start off by praising the joys of Siem Riep and the Angkor Wat, then the joys of Sihanoukville and some heavenly beaches (albeit with some dodgy dogs), and a more reserved line about Phnom Penh. The real lowpoints though would be the roads and the food. I tried, I really did. I ate quite a few Khmer dishes (read lots of) and I got excited about one. And it was a salad.

There’s nothing wrong with the food, it just doesn’t really do it for me. When a burger is the food highlight of your week, you know there is something not quite right. It was a heavyweight burger though, even by international standards. Extra bonus points came in the form of blue cheese. My dining partner was a little freaked out by the amount of enthusiasm I had for that blue cheese, I still maintain it was within the normal limits. Whatever.

And when your food doesn’t excite you, all kinds of bad things start to happen. I went on a date with a guy I’d met in a bar the night before in Siem Riep. The conversation had been amazing – zip, zap, boom – we never stopped talking all night. We talked about everything, I’m sure in our partially ginned minds we had put the world to rights, no subject was too large or too small for our beady-eyed attention.

I was so excited when I woke up, convinced this was going to be the date of a lifetime. But then, when the time actually came, with a plate of bland food in front of us, the conversation and our interest in one another died such a sad little death I was tempted to have a funeral for it. My seafood was rubbery and in a sauce that was a cross between a curry and a sweet and sour, but strangely lacking the merits of either. His was some kind of instant noodle confection, peppered with a few vegetables here and there for authenticity.

On a good note though, the salad incident took place in Phnom Penh and though it still sported instant noodles as one of the main ingredients, somehow it worked. It was a simple combination of shredded red cabbage (I TOLD you it was all about the cabbage, see previous post), white onions, instant noodles, lettuce leaves and chicken broiled and served with dried garlic and sweet chilli sauce. I think the chef probably just made it up, though it bore the name of Spicy Khmer Chicken Salad. Sounds rather dodgy but it was actually heaven. I’m looking forward to the day when we can be reunited in my kitchen.

Plus, what Cambodia lacked in food for the stomach, it more than made up for in food for the soul (retch but I had to use that phrase, just once). Here’s a selection of the shots I got while I was there... There are more on the camera that I haven’t uploaded yet so these will have to do.


Clarissa said...

mmm blue cheese burger... drool...... haven't had one of those since gbk in oxford!
and i totally know what you mean by the uninspiring food... had the same experience when i was there too... hope your next stop has more appealing offerings! xx

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