From Kids to Cooking

Trip Start Nov 15, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Friday, February 17, 2012

The Poor Street Children and Orphans Training Centre  was our
destination the next day as we looked for something a little more
upbeat after our introduction to Cambodia's genocidal past.  This
orphanage contains 76 kids, from 3-4 year olds to teens.  They exist
totally on charity on the good will of private citizens, without any
government help or assistance.

They are directed by a monk, Pat Noun, and we were shown around by a
women who not only works at the orphanage, but was raised there herself.
They educate the kids up to grade 3 before they travel out to attend
public schools.  The kitchen is located across the street where we were
shown the large pots where the rice was prepared.  The school needs 50
kilos of rice per day to feed the kids. 

Monica gave the kids some pencils and candies in the classroom and we
gave a donation and a kilo of rice as well.  The kids appear happy in their
surroundings - I spotted only a couple of older teens standing off on their
own looking kind of forlorn and moody but I certainly cannot blame this on
their surroundings in the orphanage.  Afterall, teens are teens no matter
where one is in the world.

It was explained to us that there are very severe rules and laws
governing adoption in Cambodia - basically if one has a family relative
alive they cannot be adopted and taken out of the country.  These laws are
in place to protect children from the lucrative sex trade that children are
prone to in this area of the world.

(on a slightly different but still connected note, it is somewhat amazing
to see the number of western middle aged men partnered up with young asian women.
It is not the cultural difference that stands out so much, as the size and age
difference.  These are 50 year old men, often standing well over six feet and
weighing well over 200 lb. with petit twenty year old girls.  The term used to be
mail-order brides.  Monica gets seething angry looking at these couples, feeling
the white males are simply buying the girls.  I try to more objective and long
term - this is not going to last and is a heart attack in the making!!!)

The next day Monica took a cooking course on her own at a Khmer cuisine called
the Frizz restaurant.  From what I hear it went very well.  In fact, she even
has aspirations to become an Asian chef.  My writings of this will be spotty
since I was not there and am taking this down strictly through hearsay.  I spent
the day on the river in Phnom Penh reading Paul Auster's The Book of Allusions 
which I will gladly describe to you in vivid detail at some other time.

Monica made: 1)spring rolls - which she had to roll and stuff by herself; 2) Amok
made with tiger fish, lemon grass, crushed nuts, coconut milk, assorted herbs
and wrapped in banana leaves for presentation; 3) Banana Blossom Salad with
Chicken, made with banana leaves, noodles, sweet and sour sauce, red peppers,
and herbs; 4) Sticky Rice and Mango, made with sticky rice, mango, coconut,
caramel,and toasted sesame seeds.

The chef grew up in an orphanage and now teaches cooking as a bonafide chef. 
I should mention that the day started with an excursion to the market where
all the students had to purchase the ingredients fresh that they would cook
with that day.  Monica befriended a Canadian named Steve who was taking the
course with his bride to be.  Steve was taking a short holiday in PP

and works in the Canadian embassy in the Philippines.  His wife to be is
native to the Philippines.  In six months, Steve is to transferred to the Sudan
and he let us know that a connection or friend in the embassy is always a plus
when traveling in Africa - which is a tentative plan for us in 2014.

So Monica is now not working anymore, beginning to love small kids and
starting to take up cooking.  Sounds like a very traditional housewife and
everyone is going to hold me responsible, of course.

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Karina on

Enjoy lovely Cambodia. Those gentle people have suffered so much & so recently. It is humbling. Interesting your comments about Lonely Planet (not) guides. We thought the same. Very envious of you - we are back well into the day to day home & work groove!!

Sue on

Wow, that food looks delicious! I'd be happy to try any of these should you feel the need to show off your new cooking skills :)

heather y norm on

Anytime you want us to critique (enjoy) your new Asian cooking skills, count us in! Maybe you'll have an Asian food party when you get back home!
Un abrazo,
heather y norm

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