Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cambodia's Unique Cuisine

24 February 2008. I spend my fine sunny Sunday morning at Central Market checking around some stuff. After purchasing a pair of sunglasses (the one I’m using is more than a year already!) I passed by and took photos of one of the Khmer’s favorite delicacies.

I’m sure tourists and locals alike will never leave this market without taking a glance or photos of this unique Khmer cuisine.

Feast your eyes and indulge yourself with this exotic khmer cuisine with wide variety of selections from roaches to spiders, crickets to grasshoppers and a lot more! If you could not hear those as dark fells nor could not see it hopping around it might be that they are swimming already on that heated pan or they are on display on markets like in Phsar Thmey.

I tried one before with the persistence of my officemate. A crunchy deep fried cricket like a fresh served fried spring roll wrapper. Better imagine that way while taking it into your mouth!

Nearby the market I also found small shells sold on a push cart. This flower like form caught my attention and I take out my cam and take a shot. What a creative presentation!
11 pcs. of chilli formed like a flower, it looks like an octopus swimming in this red sea of shells.

The shell is called locally as “Leas”. What more amazed me is that this shell is cooked under the sun, no wonder why most of the push carts I’ve seen are exposed under the sun and the shells are placed in G.I. sheets, wherein if exposed on the sun it becomes also hot that makes the cooking more faster. Quite a unique preparation isn’t it? With the whole preparation package then it’s called as “Leas Harl”. Harl is the local term for the G.I. sheet. (Please feel free to give correction if my terms are incorrect.)

Some prefers also cooking it with onion leaves and sauce. My officemate even gags that no one buys if its raining since they knew that its not well cooked. Leas are usually harvested in Pursat province. If the shell has more dark apple green color it comes from a sandy river, and if it’s dark, it comes from a muddy river.

It reminds me of my childhood days looking shells like these but bigger ones in the river banks nearby our house. We use sickle to scratch around the muddy banks, usually on the base of the Nipa tree and once we heard a tick, it means we hit a shell already and just grab it in the mud and place it in our basket. Our paths are noticeable with lines marked like a chessboard and our foot paths. It was a fun experience really before! Even my mom would get angry with me since I don’t sleep in that sunny summer afternoon and rather spend my time playing with my friends on the river banks.