Living in Phnom Penh: Veggie Love

Cambodian Culture, Cambodian Food & Cuisine, Living in Phnom Penh / Saturday, February 19th, 2011

I never thought I’d say this – I Love Veggies! And I’ve got Cambodia to thank for this. Yes, Filipino food is very delicious albeit not so well known. But one complaint I have about Pinoy cuisine is that its heavy with fat, a lot of them fried, uses a lot of meat. And veggies are just an after thought. Pang-halo is the role of the veggies. Consequently, when I was younger, I never much cared for vegetables.

at my usual vegetable vendor place..

I also remember distinctly, a friend of my cousin once said, she doesn’t like eating vegetables only coz she feels ‘poor’ while when she eats meat she feels ‘rich’. I know her line of thinking is weird for me now, but if one thinks about being healthy, then you’d know which choice to make.

fresh and cheap veggies @ the wet market

Cambodians though, eat the opposite way. Meats are just sahog, or for flavoring. Though they have viands using meat exclusively, 100% sure that would be served with fresh vegetables as side dish. Example, the grilled or boiled beef, pork cuts you can buy along the streets are served with a big plate of slice cucumber, tomatoes, mint and some other vegetables. Even balut would be served with a plethora of mint and leafy stuff aside from the sauce.

munchies. prohat –  fried hotdogs, meatballs, fishballs etc always served with cucumber, mint…

Having Khmer in-laws have naturally exposed me more to follow this way of eating. We usually eat weekend lunches with my in laws and they prepare lots and lots and lots of vegetables.  And a lot of them cooked stir fried in wok {less oil}, boiled in soups or blanched|steamed. Pretty healthy eating and I stopped wondering why most of them are very slim and elders have great skin. Eating like that is like having herbal colon cleanse on a daily basis.

boiled pork intestines served with spicy sauce and always – lots of vegetables.

At first I resisted, but then I got used to it. And now life is not the same if I don’t have veggies. I get digestive problems whenever I gorge on just meat, sweets and starchy foods and no leafy veggies even for one day. Plus, buying vegetables in the markets here is sooo cheap. I spend around 15,000 Riels (< $4) for veggies and is enough for us the whole week..

I’m just really thankful, living in Cambodia has made me  discover a love for vegetables. I think this would be saving me a lot of doctor and hospital trips when I’m older.

One Reply to “Living in Phnom Penh: Veggie Love”

  1. I agree with you, Lui. Living here in Cambodia has re-introduced me to vegetables. Back when I was working in Pinas, I was a fastfood consumer! But here, I enjoyed the luxury of eating food with fresh vegetables. We also have a budget of $5 for veggies for one week and I don’t mind going to the market every other day for our supply.

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