cooking class… in cambodia

One of my favorite memories of my trip to Indochina was a humble hands-on cooking class I received in a rural Cambodian home.

My first project was to purchase eggs at the local market. Simple right? Not so. I was given the exact amount of money needed for my purchase. I didn’t see this as a problem until a swarm of very persistent children descended on us like vultures to a carcass. They used their best sales tactics to try to pry our money away from us by dangling baubles and bangles, old teeth, rocks and other found treasures in our face. I had to stay strong if I wanted to cook. So I pressed on.

scavenger hunt at cambodia market
Fish, fish and more fish… where were the eggs hiding?

frogs in cambodia

Oh here are some eggs, but wait, wrong kind. I tried to recite the “green eggs and ham” rhyme with the next vendor, but he acted like he’d never heard of Dr. Seuss.

cambodia pigs at the market


Low and behold,I spied the source, but the fruit of their loins remained a mystery.

cambodia market “trying to keep your display in order is a challenge with live birds”

My cooking lesson was about to be doomed, until finally I pointed to the place on a chicken where the eggs come out. I am relieved – a) that they understood, and b) that they didn’t try to sell me the other stuff that comes out that end.

cambodia cooking

After our success at the market, my parents and I were escorted back to our host’s house where we found dinner starting to brew.

cambodia cooking class

I was most excited to prepare the sautéed greens instead of the unsuspecting entree waffling around outside. (see chicken blog) The other sous chefs didn’t look like they were having as much fun as I was.

cambodia locals cookingNo trip is complete without the opportunity to give back in some small way. We had the pleasure to help a local Cambodian school with their English program, as well as participating the morning ritual of giving sticky rice the monks in Laos.

giving alms in Laos

Even though I got deathly ill at the end of this trip (can’t imagine why), I would do it again. I have learned that while my stomach doesn’t always agree with other cultures, I can accept and appreciate them. Their lifestyles and customs are fascinating to me. I hope they are for you as well.

I have more market pictures and stories to tell, but I will save them for another blog. Look forward to experiencing Peru, India & Russia on the next encounter of a clash of culinary cultures.

I leave you with a video that I shot at the local night market in Bangkok. My mother and I are enjoying a screamin’ good fish massage. Click here for video.
….and then, she paused for thought.

About Cathy Arkle

Cathy Arkle is a food blogger, culinary explorer, graphic artist, and cooking class junkie. Her inspirations come from her travels across the globe (50 countries) in the last 20+ years partaking in various ethnic cuisines while working as a graphic artist for major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX & ESPN). She has collected a few Emmys in the field of graphic design for sports & entertainment. Cathy is also a graduate of the Pro Chef courses at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA

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