National culture is something that develops over time. In some centuries, the change can be accelerated because of factors unique to that century. In the case of Cambodia, its people may be migrants themselves, and the arrival of French colonialists resulted in a fair amount of change in over a century of ‘’occupation.’’ It was not just in the architecture. While Cambodian people largely ignored Christianity, there were other aspects of life that changed simply because of the French presence with a few words entering the language.
The Khmer Rouge, intentionally, or because it destroyed a host of things during its brief reign, removed other influences of foreign domination though one little thing that the French brought was a love of their bread and in Cambodia, despite the popularity of rice, locals are often seen eating their curries with a baguette. Other aspects of Cambodian cuisine are definitely of their own creation.
You will see as you enjoy your Cambodia tour package that daily life is fairly simple, but certainly not easy. Some things have not changed for generations and the task each day is to earn enough money to feed the family, or grow the crops with the same intention. When it comes to things within the Cambodian diet, some are most certainly not part of anything the French would cook.
A good example is the large hairy spider that you are likely to see during your Cambodia holiday. You may see it on a plate because it is something that Cambodians cook and eat. These spiders originate in the tropical forests and the place best known for eating them is a town about 75 km from the Capital, Phnom Penh. Skuon is located on the edge of the forest and spiders are caught in caves, seasoned with salt as well as sugar and roasted in oil and garlic. They become crispy outside but remain soft inside. If you are feeling adventurous, then try one. If you pass through Skuon on your Cambodia travel package and see a queue of cars, they are more likely to be queuing for spiders than petrol. Incidentally, there is even an export market for these spiders; to Thailand.
Cambodian cuisine does include some excellent dishes that foreigners will certainly enjoy. Fish is a popular part of the local diet which also includes many dishes served with rice and a variety of soups. There is a wide range of vegetables and fruits to be found in Cambodia and sweet desserts are popular too. Fruits include the durian, an awful smelling fruit with a surprisingly good taste, a texture like custard or blancmange, coconut, jackfruit, pineapple, papaya and banana.
Neighbouring countries have resulted in different influences entering the Cambodian cuisine; Indian, Thai, Chinese and Bangladeshi. It makes for an interesting variety and while travelling in Cambodia you will never become bored with the food you are offered, but feel free to politely decline something you don’t fancy, such as that spider. It’s just part of the culture!