No Reservations in Cambodia

I’m a big fan of Anthony Bourdain. I’m an even bigger fan of his writing ,which he showcases as only he can on his TV Show, “No Reservations.” It’s not only beautifully written, but beautifully shot and edited. Bourdain gives the viewer an unvarnished look at countries they’ll likely never visit. Tonight, he showcased Cambodia, a country I’ve been lucky enough to visit.

This was the second time Bourdain traveled to Cambodia. I saw the first one too, and was quite frankly offended. In that show, he seemed to slam the country, the people, and the food. Tonight however, as my husband and I both noted, he redeemed himself. He finally got the people, the food, and the culture. It’s a country I hold dear to my heart. My husband, Van was born there, but was forced to flee his homeland with his mom and sisters in 1974, as the Khmer Rouge began their genocide of 1.7 million people.  Van has been there two times since he left in a military helicopter. The last time he brought along me and our oldest daughter Olivia. As well as Bourdain gave viewers a taste of  Cambodia, you have to see it to believe it. He is right when he says there’s no other country like it. We spent a little more than a week  in Cambodia, meeting family, eating amazing food, and learning the important history of this fascinating country. Olivia at times seemed a little overwhelmed, but so was I. How do you explain genocide to your 6-year-old daughter? How do you explain the extreme poverty that’s everywhere around you? How do you explain why children her age are on the streets trying to sell trinkets to tourists like us?  Van and I tried our best to be honest with her, but in a way a 6-year-old could understand.  As confused as she sometimes was, I was so proud to see her embrace part of her heritage, and happily slurp up her

noodles.  

Anthony Bourdain would be so proud.

I know the basic history of Cambodia, but this episode of “No Reservations” taught me plenty. I had no idea green peppercorns are grown in Kampot. I have spent the last 15 years eating amazing Cambodian food Van’s mom spends hours cooking. However, I’ve never seen her make her own rice paper wrappers like I saw being done for what had to be the freshest spring rolls in the history of fresh spring rolls. And I’ve never heard of Happy Pizza with its powerful herbal component until tonight.  Watch the episode to see what I mean. While I’m excited to bring my other two daughters to Cambodia when they’re old enough, I don’t think I’ll be introducing them to Happy Pizza.

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