Tuesday, February 9, 2010

No Wine-ing Allowed

Here are some facts about Cambodia:
  1. Sixty percent of the Cambodian population is under the age of 20.
  2. Cambodia is approximately 95% Buddhist.
  3. Angkor Wat is one of the 7 wonders of the world.  The temples are made from carved stone and are around 1,000 years old.  The word "magnificent" doesn't even begin to describe them.
  4. There are 3 - 6 million land mines still buried in Cambodia.  An average of 2 to 3 people step on them each day and are killed or severely injured.  It costs over $500 to locate and remove one land mine.
  5. The number of AIDS cases in Cambodia has reached epidemic levels and is the highest in Asia.
  6. 10,000 - 20,000 children live on the streets in Cambodia.  60% or more sniff glue which curbs their hunger (and causes brain damage).
  7. Cows in Cambodia are super-skinny and almost skeletal.  They are used solely for bartering or pulling carts.  Dairy and beef are not prevalent in the Cambodian diet.
  8. A favorite snack to go along with Angkor Beer is a big plate of fried, salted crickets or tarantulas. 
  9. Wine as we know it is not consumed frequently in Cambodia.  Instead, they prefer wine made from palm sugar (I tried it - it makes Gallo look like fine wine).
I've just returned from my journey and  am dragging my jet-lagged self around, trying to be functional.  Guess that explains why, when I went to the grocery store this morning, I found myself pushing someone else's cart into which I had actually loaded a few items of my own.  Oops!  By the time I realized it, no one was around and I had no idea who it belonged to so I just left it in the aisle and slunk away.  Shame, shame!

I will have a lot to say and a lot of pictures to post as soon as I recover from the 26-hours of travel.  In the meantime though, let me introduce you to my favorite drink in Cambodia.  That would be "Lime Juice."  In the absence of decent wine, this became my beverage of choice and it isn't even alcoholic!

For you jaded readers out there, I know this is basically what we know as limeade.  But it is so much more exotic than that when you make it with sugar syrup and keep it on the tart side the way the Cambodians do!


For the syrup:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water

Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir then bring to a boil.  Let boil for 30 seconds then turn off heat.  Let cool slightly, then chill in refrigerator until cold.  Place in a small pitcher.

To assemble the drink:
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Thin lime slices for garnish

Fill a tall glass with ice.  Add lime juice.  Place a straw and a long thin spoon in glass (in lieu of this, you can use an iced tea spoon if you have one).  Serve with the pitcher of chilled syrup.  Add syrup as desired to the lime juce and stir well.  Garnish with lime slices.

Serves 1

Try to mend your evil western ways and add less syrup than you usually would.  You don't want this to be overly sweet or it ceases to be refreshing.

And of course, this could always benefit from a splash or two of vodka.  You could even serve it up with some fried crickets, in which case the vodka would be crucial.

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