Cambodian cuisine

The Cambodian food is generally overlooked, even by some expatriates who have lived in the country for years. In the Southeast Asian region, the most internationally famous cuisines come from Thailand and Vietnam. You can find Thai and Viet restaurants in all continents, but it is more uncommon to see a Cambodian restaurant – though there are. As many other things of the Cambodian culture, its cuisine has been hidden by decades of wars and conflicts, but we are in the golden time of tourism and knowing it can be a delicious adventure.

Before the 2004’s Cambodian tourism boom and due to high poverty and economic stagnation, good restaurants were about international food – Western, especially French, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese. Cambodian restaurants were places with poor hygienic avoided by foreigners that were afraid of getting an infection. 

But it is possible now to enjoy very good and high standard local food restaurants in the main Cambodian cities. As any thing that has to see with culture, the Cambodian cuisine is rich and enriched by many other groups and traditions. As the other Southeast Asian food, Cambodian meals include rice, species, vegetables and fruits.

When they eat

Breakfast

What is breakfast in your country? Westerners in Cambodia find easy to ask for International breakfast and it’s over for the day. As a very rural society, Cambodians get early, even in the cities. A big breakfast – like a lunch – is served from 6:00 and it can be:

  • Rice soup (bo-bo).
  • Grilled meat (chicken, pork or beef) with rice.
  • Noodle soup.

You are in a tropical country, so asking a coffee means an ice-coffee. Traditionally Cambodians take cold tea – that is always free. The French baguette is very much popular in the Cambodian breakfast and it can come also as a sort of sandwich sold on the streets including grilled meat, vegetables, spices and sauces.

Lunch

Lunch time is earlier: from 11:00 to 13:00. Cambodians eat fast and do not socialize too much during meal times as it is done in the west cultures. Most natural and rural peoples do not consider meal time as a sort of meeting to talk about life, business or any sort of topic, but right the time to eat. They do not look for much comfort, so you can find people eating on the floor, a driver eating inside his tuk-tuk and so on.

Dinner

Dinner time can start at 17:00. It is too late to eat at 20:00 in Cambodia, if we remember that we are in a mostly rural country where electricity is just arriving to the further provinces. Supper can take more time and includes drinks with all the men of the family sitting on the floor. The meal includes different dishes.

Some facts

  • Cambodian food is a combination of two savors: sweet and spicy, being sweeter. Cambodian food is less spicy than Thai food.
  • In order to make it sweet, meals get a good amount of sugar, including soups and meat.
  • Every province has its own delicacies. The different ethnic groups make their own contribution to the Cambodian cuisine.

 Wait for more updates…. Thanks for comments.

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

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