Phnom Penh, Cambodia with Mongkol

By: leelefever on July 6, 2006 - 1:50am

Before we left Seattle, I had a call with a fellow Blogger named Beth Kanter who has strong ties with Cambodia. Beth has been a wonderful contact and hooked us up with a young Cambodian guy and blogger named Mongkol who is moving to the US in a month on a Fulbright scholarship and attending Boston College. Yesterday Mongkol was our gracious tour guide to Phnom Penh.

For those that may have seen what I said on a local news story, it was that guidebooks are great, but we’d prefer to meet locals who can give us another perspective on a city and our day with Mongkol did just that.  He said “So, do you want to be with the other barangs (foreigners), or go where Cambodians eat?” We left town to “eat boiled corn”.

After about 30 minutes of driving we arrived at a strip of restaurants right on the edge of a marsh.  This was no regular restaurant.  The kitchen was on the land, but the tables (sitting areas) and roof rambled out over the marsh for about 80 yards on bamboo stilts.  With every step, the floor bounced and swayed. Each little sitting area was square and included three hammocks and a bamboo mat.

The boiled corn and pickled radish was fine, but one part of the meal will always stick out in my mind- the boiled “baby duck” eggs.  Mongkol mentioned them on the way and I remember seeing something similar on the TV show Fear Factor (not a good sign).  He ordered a few eggs and I was on the fence as he explained that some are some eggs that are more “mature” then others. He opened the first egg and I couldn’t believe my eyes – it contained a baby duck with eyes, a bill, feathers and feet.  He didn’t say it, but I think it was more mature than he wanted too.  He ate it and I found myself doubting I would do the same.

In the end, the next egg was much less mature (much more amorphous than duck-like) and I ate the whole thing.  Truthfully, the taste was not bad at all, but the idea of eating a duck fetus was not a nice image – a vegetarian’s worst nightmare I'm sure.

We both think a lot of Mongkol and look forward to hearing about his experiences in the US, where we’re sure he’ll do well.  We appreciate so much the time he spent with us answering our myriad questions and introducing us to his Cambodia, baby ducks and all.

Syndicate content