Being a Kiva Fellow in Southeast Asia you meet many small business owners. Some of these business owners sell what I like to call “culinary adventures”. So as not to offend people, you get a chance to try many of the dishes. Over the course of my seven months, I’ve discovered after a while to stop asking what it is, and just try it. Some have left their impressions on me though, and I thought I’d share them with you.
Let’s see, in Cambodia you have fried tarantula and various bugs such as beetle, cricket, and bee larva. The most delicious and famous ones come from the Kampong Cham region, northeast of Phnom Penh. You can get them on the side of the road as you motorbike by, or at any local street market.

"love, love, love me some good tarantula!"

You also have dog. This dish was bought for me by Rong, a Cambodian friend. He told me, “You have to try it since you don’t have it in the US, and after you try it, you must text me what you think.” I was told that dog is a meat that makes you warm. It is eaten mainly by men and coupled with beer. The best dog restaurant in Phnom Penh is just east of the Boung Keng Kong Market.

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And I did have a beer or two with it. It just went down better with a beer. My stomach is still upset just thinking about it.

You also have boiled duck fetus eggs called “pong tea koun”. Fortunately, I only had one opportunity to eat it, and my Cambodian friends at CREDIT-MFI let me slide on that one as I watched them chow-down. As they pulled the fetus from its shell, I could see the partially formed baby duck complete with head, neck, beak, and wings. It was explained to me that you can buy “pong tea koun” at different fetus stages, a few days old to 2-weeks old. It all depends on your taste. It was the nastiest looking thing I had ever seen someone eat. It is said that they give you strength and energy.

Now, Khmer and Filipino cuisines do not have much in common, but they do seem to share the same love for boiled duck fetus eggs. In Tagalog, it is called “balut”, and unfortunately, this time my Filipino friends at ASKI-MFI would not take, “No” for an answer.

Now, if you eat “balut” like a lady, you don’t pull the embryo out of the shell, you eat it bit by bit with a little spoon so you don’t have to actually see what you are eating. Lucky for me, the ladies at ASKI-MFI eat “balut” like men which is what they required of me. To eat “balut” like a man, you pull the entire fetus out of its shell in order to see the almost formed fetus duck body . It usually takes about 2-3 bites to completely eat.

Balut, see the fetus duck head on the right?

Balut, see the fetus duck head on the right?

Needless to say my “culinary adventures” continue. I will be in Cabanatuan City, Philippines with ASKI-MFI for the next three months bringing you Kiva client stories and blogs. Hope you enjoy them, I am off to lunch now.

Hmmmmm, should I have goat or more balut?

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