You’ll often come across barbecued or grilled snake, often on a stick, in the markets of Cambodia. Apparently so many snakes are killed to either feed crocodiles or humans that many are endangered now.
The flavour and odour of the Durian fruit is so strong it’s the kind of thing you either love or hate. I’m definitely in the latter category but you can’t deny the passion a lot of locals have for this fruit. Although it is even banned from transportation and some hotels in parts of southeast Asia because some find the odour offensive. It certainly permeates everything in the vicinity. It is native to Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei but found widely in Cambodia, and I even came across durian icecream in Phnom Penh.
Sticky rice is common around Indochina and a really good snack for eating on a long bus journey or boat trip if you don’t want to try anything too exotic. It’s also pretty filling. In Cambodia it seems they cook it inside bamboo with red bean and coconut milk so the rice is sweet and red. To eat it you peel off the skin and use the bamboo as a spoon.
Fried spiders are commonly found for sale on the plates of mobile vendors or in the markets around Cambodia. You can be walking down the street and have a dish of these thrust at you! Yes, it’s a little disconcerting and hard to believe people can develop a taste for the hairy beasts but apparently during the hardships of the Khmer Rouge regime they did. They are often fried in garlic and salt.
Crickets are another insect that became part of the national diet during Pol Pot’s regime, when other food sources were hard to come by. It’s a big industry these days and the Khmer’s still love the deep fried, crispy snacks. If you’re willing to taste them – I wasn’t so I can’t give you any specific taste information here – you are supposed to ask for a male cricket as they are apparently have a herbal flavour.
by Joanne Lane.