Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia is like no place I've ever been. Originally known as a quick stopping ground to explore the ancient temples, Siem Reap is holding its own as a destination city. While it's certainly developing at a quick pace, visitors can still get a sense of the old-school charm, lure, and energy of Siem Reap. The local Khmer food is also spectacular.
Our first night was dedicated to a cooking class at Le Tigre de Papier. A class of nine individuals from all over the world gathered together to learn the ins and outs of Cambodian food. We started off at the market, which was exciting. Women sat perched upon tables, selling exotic fruits, chopping live, squirmy fish, and haggling over pig heads and other raw meats.
Together we prepared traditional dishes like Amok curry, spring rolls, banana leaf salad, and fried pork with lotus root. Many dishes include ingredients such as ginger, turmeric, palm sugar, chilies, lemon grass, and basil, which means a lot of dicing, mincing, and shredding. The preparation is certainly a labor of love, but it's worth it.
The remainder of our dining time in Siem Reap was dedicated to tasting the local food and eating as many spring rolls (fresh and fried) as possible. I think we succeeded.