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Musings from the World of Jewel Scarves for Cambodia Journals for the Journey

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


My favorite fruit: the mangosteen - a delicious fruit grown on tropical evergreens in Southeast Asia. The taste is really unique and hard to describe; it's sweet and tangy, with the texture of a peach. To open the fruit you pinch at the top by the green stem, cracking the rind, and pulling the soft shell open. The white inside breaks apart like orange slices; those slimy white pieces are the good stuff! Avoid eating the rind; it's really bitter. I understand that presently the U.S.D.A. does not allow the mangosteen to enter the U.S., but they are gradually making their appearance in Asian and International markets in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles for anywhere between $4-$11.
Other popular fruits include: the jan fruit, kuy fruit, romduol, pineapple, star apple, rose apple, coconut, palmyra fruit, jackfruit, papaya, watermelon, banana, mango and rambutans. Although fruits are usually considered desserts, some fruits such as: mangoes, watermelon, and pineapples are eaten commonly with fish or with plain rice. Popular fruits for shakes are durian, mangoes, and bananas.

Below is a sticky rice cake with mung bean; it is a recipe for special occasions (i.e. weddings.) I was initially hesitant to try it -- since it looks like a thick, cloudy, white jello, and is wrapped in a moist, warm banana leaf -- but it really is very good! There are many varieties of this recipe; I hope Vandy's mum will teach me how to make it!

If you watch Fear Factor, maybe you have seen balut. Balut is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo (aka: baby duck) inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. "A combination of saltiness and tartness, softness and crunchiness, a sensation of sweetness, the degree of resistance to the bite, the viscosity and stickiness are the rewards."

The staple food for Cambodians is rice. Almost every meal includes a bowl of rice, although noodles are also popular. A wide range of curries, soups and stir fries are served with rice.

Vegetables like mushrooms, cabbage, corn, bamboo shoots, fresh ginger, broccoli, and snow are commonly used in many different stir fry dishes.

Fish is the most common form of meat in Khmer cuisine. Pork is also very popular. Beef and chicken are stewed, grilled or stir fried. Seafood includes an array of shellfish like clams, cockles, crayfish, shrimp and squid; lobsters are not commonly eaten because of their price. Roasted duck is popular during festivals. More unusual meats include: dog, frog, rat, snake, tarantula, and cricket.

Chicken fingers has a whole new meaning!

Love love love, Jewel

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