Street traders in Phnom Penh

The Fruit Seller and Cambodian Culinary Delights

Having just returned from a truly amazing trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, I would like to invite you to share with me some of the magic that we encountered along the way.

We arrived In Siem Reap, Cambodia which is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire.  We then travelled a five-hour journey by road  to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.  It was stark contrast to the quiet country life we encountered along the road,  Phnom Penh  is undergoing a modern renaissance.   Steeped in beauty and a rich culture of ancient Khmer history, its  people smile with a gentleness that appears unbowed  by the  wars,  genocide and  poverty that has besieged their country.

Cambodian woman carrying fruit along the street
The Fruit Seller – Oil on Board – 44 x 60 cms

This is my first painting reflecting my travels.  It is so commonplace to see the street traders selling their wares, hoping to catch your eye, hoping to engage – a sale, a dollar!

Street traders in Phnom Penh
Business as Usual
Street traders in Phnom Penh at the fruit market
Market Day on the streets of Phnom Penh

In Phnom Penh, we came upon many food markets.  These were a feast for my eyes with a humming energy ever-present. The colours, the textures, the smells of fish, fruit and fowl all mingled together to create a pungent aroma. Chickens squawked, frogs leapt and fish squirmed while underfed cats came to see what  offerings could be had.

Girl selling snake on a skewer in Cambodia
Crispy Snake for Sale

All kinds of food was on offer with fruits I’d never seen nor heard of before.  My imagination was rather more stretched when I saw such things as spiders being served as a delicacy.  Tourists gathered round and dared each other to taste the culinary delights.  I played my role through “observation” only!

Skewered Snakes, snakes on skewers
Skewered Snakes
Spiders Roasted 'n Toasted and ready to eat
Spiders Roasted ‘n Toasted
Good food to eat in Cambodia
Crickets ‘n all
Suckling Pig
Suckling Pig
Crystallsing the palm sugar
Crystallsing the palm sugar

The palm tree is most useful, in that every part of the tree has its purpose, even the roots of the tree play their part.  In this photograph, the girl is cooking the sap from the palm tree and stirring it until it crystallizes.  It is then wrapped in palm leaves and sold for cooking purposes.  This is a high quality 100% natural food product.

We also tasted some palm sugar wine and needless to say, it was delicious.

Check back soon to see my next posting on Asian charm.

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