Friday, May 31, 2013

Cambodia -- Farmers' Market Friday

When I first started following blogs there were a few that instantly grabbed my attention -- and A Couple Cooks was one of them.  Both the stunning photography and their delicious yet healthy approach to eating got me hooked.  But it was the level of compassion and human connected that kept me there.  Sonja and Alex do more than just keep a blog -- they blog with a purpose.  All of the proceeds from their blog goes to bettering the world, whether working with world hunger programs or supporting nutrition education.  They even wrote a cookbook, The Green Mango Cafe, that is helping to fight against trafficking in Cambodia, and providing women with culinary job skills so they have options.  Talk about using what they are blessed with (access to clean, healthy food) to make a difference in the lives around them!  Enjoy this look at a trip to the market while they were in Cambodia, shared by Sonja.


Over the past two years, I've had the privilege of travelling to Cambodia twice. It's a country I never dreamed of visiting, but my husband Alex and I became connected with a culinary program for at-risk young women there, and last year wrote a cookbook to benefit the program. As Americans born and bred in the Midwest, arriving in Cambodia was like entering another world to us! The differences were almost too numerous to count, and were especially apparent at the markets. 

Most cities and towns in Cambodia have open air markets that begin early in the morning to escape the heat. Vendors sit under umbrellas on the perimeter of the market, selling multitudes of fresh fruits and vegetables. Colorful tropical fruits abound -- pineapples, bananas, papayas, mangoes -- and then more exotic fruits like durian, star fruit, tamarind, and dragonfruit. My favorite is mangosteen, a purple fruit about the size of a plum with a hard exterior and sweet and tangy sections of fruit inside.

The interior of the market is usually covered, and here is where the meat and fish are sold. This is one of the most surprising areas for a Westerner, since the raw meat is in the open air, being hacked at by dozens of cleavers as the vendors butcher meat and scale fish a few feet from the customers. I've even gotten sprayed with bits raw meat as I walk through the stalls! Here, you can find delicacies of all sorts: fish and snakes writhing in buckets, frogs, shrimp, pigs heads, and chicken feet. Sometimes, you can even find delicacies like crickets or tarantula. 

People mill about throughout the market, ducking under the umbrellas in the hot sun and moving quickly through the maze of vendors. The air is charged with energy, and you can only imagine the types of smells!    It's a fascinating place to shop. 

Bonus: Here's a video of the market we made last year to help show a bit more of what a Cambodian market is like.


(Tiffany here again...)

I love these pictures.  Such life captured in them!  I have travelled plenty, for sure, but this is a world I do not know.  Thank you, Sonja, for sharing this with us!  When I see the pictures my first thought is, "Wow, it's so different!" But then I look and see families together, people in their work place, fruit and veggies that I do not know alongside those that I do, and I realize that, yes, it is different, but at the core, we are all more similar than not.  What a beautiful reminder!

Go check out more great pictures and find some tasty recipes by visiting their page.   And then get out there and enjoy your farmers' market! :)

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