Thursday, August 5, 2010

First lunch in the field

I'm mostly settled in here in Phnom Penh. A big part of my job involves visiting rural Kandal province outside of town. (If you want to know more about what I am doing, check out my Kiva blog.) We call these days going out "in the field." Yesterday was my first day in the field and as such, my first lunch in the field.

When the Khmer fellow I was working with asked what I wanted for lunch, I said, "Oh, anything" and let him do the ordering. My laissez-faire attitude was rewarded with a big bowl of duck in a sans-coconut milk green curry with water morning glory and giant hunks of blood.

Now, this isn't my first run-in with blood. I'm generally pretty disgusted by blood sausage of any sort and find a full English breakfast to be pretty unpleasant due to the blood angle. But there have been occasions when I've actually enjoyed duck blood, so I gave this one a shot and was pleasantly surprised. Mild and overpowered by the curry, it was not unpleasant, and the bone-in duck meat in the dish was tender and delicious. I got the sense that this duck had been quacking pretty recently.

We also had fish, one big one and a plate of small ones that were meant to be eaten whole, bones and all. Another dish was papaya soaked in copious amounts of fish sauce. They love fish sauce around here it seems, which is lucky because I do too.

My favorite dish was the kro auchhouk with beef. I had never eaten lotus rootlet before, and in fact, we just had a group huddle here in the office trying to figure out what it's called in English.

We decided on lotus rootlet or lotus rhizome, although there may be a more common variation that I'm not aware of.

All in all, my "field" meals was the best I have had so far in Cambodia and it almost made the 7 hours on the back of a motorcycle worth it.

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