Eating noodles in Cambodia…
If you walk in Phnom Penh you will notice all around you that food is everywhere - street vendors, markets, fancy restaurants and world cuisine ranging from Japanese to Mexican. To eat Cambodian food, there’s no need to go very far. A lot of makeshift restaurants are congregated around the markets and offer traditional Khmer meals. Bobor, Bagn Song, Kouy Tiev, Bay Char, Nom Bagn Chok, for the people who speak a little Khmer, you will recognize curry noodles, soups and other rice-based dishes. Spicy, in sauce, with vegetables, aromatic herbs, meats, fish and other ingredients, it’s a wide choice!
Noodles or rice, which do you prefer? Both are staple foods in Cambodia. In fact, noodles are made from rice, so it’s really the rice that feeds the whole country. How do they make noodles with rice?
The process is quite long. First, soak the rice in water for a whole night until it becomes a viscous paste. The water has to evaporate as much as possible; the paste is processed through a press and exposed to the sun. After that, the paste is poured onto a machine that will knead it and give it the shape of noodles. Then, they are baked during a few minutes and dipped several times in cooler and cooler water to gently rinse them.
But let’s return to cooking noodles. We know that 4 families are able to produce 60 kg per day (Pur Sath area, Cambodia), excluding festivities when they can produce up to 200 kilos. How much biomass is consumed for the whole production? The answer: 1 kilo of noodles requires 1 kilo of wood, and it’s important to know that the traditional coostove has been made by the producer himself. Also, our investigation reveals that the producer uses around 5000 Riels per day to buy wood (1.25 USD). Not a lot in practice but on the condition that you gain much more. The problem is that the producer makes a profit of 15,900 Riels per day (just below 4 USD); not easy in this case to make ends meet at the end of the month.
Cookstoves are part of the daily life in Cambodia…but for now, it’s time to try these noodles.
Just sit in a street restaurant and order some tasty curry noodles, you won’t be disappointed!
And if you are curious, take a look at the stove that baked your meal, is that a traditional or an improved cookstove? But this is a different story…