As part of the four days of teaching workshops and mentoring, we had a picnic lunch where we shared food from Australia and Cambodia. The Australians had organized to bring with them some delicious treats with an Aussie flavor to share with the local teachers and they had done the same so we could sit down and share a cross-nation meal together.
As we prepared the Australian picnic you could see Peanut Butter, Vegemite and Nutella along with tins of tuna, cheese and Saladas and packets of chips. The dessert side of the Australian selection was full of Caramello Koalas, Fantails and Milo and I must say the Cambodian food looked far more healthier, leading us to explain this is not what we ate for every meal!
The local teachers shared favorite rice, vegetable, pork and egg dishes, which were delicious along with boiled chilli wrapped in fish. An amazing dip with a hint of chili was spread over Saladas and enjoyed. There were a few dishes many Australians were reluctant to go near such as the cockroaches, grasshoppers and rat. With some trepidation these dishes were tried with mixed reactions (I’m told the rat tasted a lot like chicken…..) but always followed by a polite smile. Some people claimed to enjoy the grasshoppers while others were relieved when they demonstrated how to pull the head, legs and wings off before eating it.
The Australian dishes were met with the same trepidation from the Khmer people as they reluctantly tried cheese and dry biscuits. Although they didn’t like the cheese, many went back for seconds of the peanut butter and politely ate the peanut butter and Nutella Salada sandwich. A quick demonstration was needed after one teacher tried to put a large tablespoon of vegemite on their biscuit and I think they were relieved we took most of it away after tasting it!
It was certainly a highlight of the day watching the faces of the Khmer people trying food that seems so strange to them and the looks of pride as we tasted their local delicacies. And it is safe to say I won’t be bringing out the grasshoppers at my next barbecue!