Mouhot’s Cambodia: Tasting Notes

There are always stories behind stories. When we write an article for publication, there are characters we edit out, anecdotes we omit, details we cut for brevity or clarity. Much is left in the notebook for another day, another place… or never at all and nowhere to be seen. Only a smidgen of all we […]

The Cambodian Worker’s Diet

Srey Pot Mom and Ben Sarith eat a dinner of steamed rice and beef soup with gourd. The slat table on which they sit serves as dining table, kitchen counter, living room sofa, and bed. Their room, like all of their neighbors’, is just big enough for a person to squeeze between that slat bed […]

Eating Around: A Visual Food Tour of Phnom Penh

This, my friends, is the market where we used to shop for groceries when we first lived in Phnom Penh oh so many years ago. But I barely recognize the Boeung Keng Kong market today. I remember wooden stalls, mud puddles and mystery stenches. The vendors were generous, and I loved the magnificent arrays of […]

Insomnia, Nostalgia: Notes on Becoming a Food Writer

A sleepless night recently led to reminiscing about becoming a food writer. That story is now in The Faster Times. It recalls my early proposal for an article on a Phnom Penh coffee shop. Gourmet eventually bought that story, but ran only a fraction of the piece as commissioned—all writers understand the constraints of space. […]

The Pineapple Lady

It’s amazing the space certain people occupy in our minds and memories. It’s remarkable how our thoughts can capture those same people so vividly, though we don’t even know their names or stories. This is The Pineapple Lady at Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kong Market, circa 1998. We bought a pineapple from her just about […]

15 Tacos

One order of Texas sirloin tacos. When we first moved to Cambodia in 1998, Jerry took a stroll through the neighborhood and came upon a vendor beside her hot, oily wok. She was selling fritters. He didn’t know exactly what they were or what they were called, but he was interested. Since he didn’t yet […]

Cambodian Sour Fish Soup

Khmer sour fish soup, Boeng Keng Kang Restaurant, Phnom Penh In Cambodia, sour fish soup with water grass is everyday food. It’s basic, it’s cheap, it’s easy to make and everyone eats it. A day without samlor machou trou kuon trey is almost like a day without rice–almost. But not quite. Our story on this simple […]

The Right to Be a Child

Two Indian boys, the children of tea plantation workers in Darjeeling, gather plant trimmings they will use to heat their homes. During winter months, the tea plants are dormant, but plantation workers trim the dead branches for fuel. This week marks 20 years since the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the […]

What’s the Trouble with a Little Smoke?

Roasting chiles for market, Bangkok. A lot, in terms of health. Fire by far constitutes Asia’s most popular cooking method, and with good and practical reason. Smoked foods taste great. Fire is easy and accessible. But the long-term health and environmental effects are vast. A massive “brown cloud” covers much of Asia, and researchers are […]

An Ode to a Grandmother

When we first arrived in Phnom Penh, in early March, all of the young waiters at the Veiyo Tonle restaurant had shaved their heads. With great sadness, manager Neth informed us their beloved Grandma had died that week and she was cremated that day. Many on staff had come through the New Cambodian Children’s Life […]