from spiders to water lilies

This is a really special cookbook that we bought in Cambodia when we were there in 2010.  It was published by Friends-International, an NGO organization that reaches out to at-risk children and families in SE Asia through a variety of programs - including a program that teaches youth to cook-for and run restaurants.  There are two Friends training-restaurants in Phnom Penh - Friends the Restaurant and Romdeng.  We were lucky enough to dine at Romdeng several times while in Phnom Penh.  It was a beautiful and tranquil restaurant set in a lush, green courtyard and specialized in traditional Cambodian dishes.  Romdeng was also where we picked up "From Spiders to Water Lilies".  (Which we then carried in our backpacks for a further four weeks in Thailand - totally worth it though.)

the streets of Phnom Penh

the streets of Phnom Penh

pages from the cookbook with notes from the students and lovely photos

pages from the cookbook with notes from the students and lovely photos

The book itself is beautiful - filled with information about Cambodian cooking, ingredients and recipes, as well as information about the training-restaurant program and stories from the students about how it had changed their lives.  I love looking through the large, glossy photos and remembering my favourite dishes from Cambodia - fish amok, beef luc-lak, pumpkin curry and coconut-lime shakes.

If any of you would actually like this recipe, I'd be happy to forward it on...

If any of you would actually like this recipe, I'd be happy to forward it on...

As the title of the book implies, there actually is a recipe for spiders!  Yep, 'Crispy Tarantulas with Lime and Kampot Black Pepper Dip'...I don't think we'll be making that one anytime soon (or EVER). Can you imagine buying a box full of tarantulas at the pet store to cook up for appies later?  That being said...Trev did sample some deep-fried tarantula while we were at a street market - he said it tasted like teriyaki chicken - um, sure...

crispy-fried creepy crawlies at the street market

crispy-fried creepy crawlies at the street market

We haven't made very many recipes out of this book (maybe only 2).  I'm not too sure why that is, other than the fact that some of the ingredients would be tricky to get.  Also, I think it would be hard to have the dishes taste the same - a little something would always be missing and it would make me miss Cambodia.  Oh well - even if we don't use this book often, it's still one of favourite cook books.

And because I couldn't resist, here are a few more photos from Cambodia...

street market in Phnom Penh

street market in Phnom Penh

cooking class in Siem Reap

cooking class in Siem Reap

I loved playing with all the little kids (and they loved having their picture taken)

I loved playing with all the little kids (and they loved having their picture taken)