Thursday, March 19, 2015

Misadventures in Eating

19 March 2015

 We're still enjoying Phnom Penh, although I think we've agreed we've seen enough of the sad and depressing history of Cambodia, and we'll try to focus on the present.  Maybe even the future of this interesting country.

We attended a photography exhibit about (of all things) Jewish communities in Asia.  I know, who expected to find that?  The photojournalist is a young woman from North Carolina who found it difficult to explain her Judaism to Cambodians, and she spent a year exploring various Jewish communities throughout Asia.  Here in Phnom Penh, there is a Chabad group, or at least one family.  Most of her photos focused on the few small Jewish communities in India.  It really was quite interesting!

We leave tomorrow heading south to the coast, to the beautiful beaches around the town of Sihanoukville.  (Pronounced shee-ah-NOOK-ville.)  Sihanouk was one of the former princes of the kingdom, and the town was named for him.  We're hoping to just enjoy the beach and the ocean, or rather the Gulf of Thailand.

Something happened today that is sort of symbolic of the funny and crazy things that happen when one travels.  Especially in places where one doesn't speak, or even read, the language.

Okay, one of my new favorite SE Asian foods is banana flower salad.  The blossom on the end of the banana stalk is picked before the actual bananas grow, the flower is peeled and soaked (I think in vinegar), and then sliced very thinly like fine noodles.  Tossed with hot pepper, cooked chicken, maybe some pomelo or cucumber or something, and then dressed with fish sauce and sprinkled with chopped peanuts, and herbs (coriander, basil, mint).  The picture here is from the banana flower salad I had in Siem Reap.  Delicious stuff, light and perfect for hot weather.

So we found a small restaurant today, and after checking the menu we both agreed to try it.  Everyone in the entire place was Cambodian.  No one spoke much English.  But we figured we could do this.  So Richard ordered his fried rice with sausage, and I ordered the banana flower salad.  Nice waitress came back and said banana flower salad is all finished.  Okay, I looked at the menu again and pointed at the grilled duck.  Waitress nods, goes to the kitchen.  Returns to say so sorry, the duck is all finished.  I looked at the menu again.  "Fried chicken bosom."  Okay, sounds like it would be fried chicken breast, right?  I could eat that.  So I point, and the waitress nods and goes off.  The chef comes out to double check, and I say yes, and point again.  (I should have known.)  Eventually, I get a plate.  Of, well, I'm not sure what.  There were bites of chicken liver (I hate liver!), and maybe chicken giblets?  And the yolk of hard boiled egg, I think.  Round yellow things, in the gravy with various chicken innards.  I did eat the green beans, but after eating a bite that turned out to be liver (ugh!), I just ate some rice.  And left the rest.

We laughed about it on our walk home - it was just too funny, the fried chicken bosom that turned out to be what we call, in Yiddish, kishkes.  Guts, essentially.  I have no idea how they came up with chicken bosom on the menu when they meant kishkes.

Anyway, it was one of those travel misadventures that was just classic.   

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