Little did I know when I got up on Sunday morning that my day would be filled with noodles and rice. Had I known I wouldn't have chosen noodles for breakfast, but when in Asia, eat rice noodles.
Lena and Steven, from Siem Reap Food Tours met us at Viroth's and we split into two groups – the vegetarian and non-pork eaters going to the market first with Steven and the rest of us, who eat everything that moves, went with Lena and Chef Pola. As to not overwhelm the already overwhelming market our team stopped for noodles first – while team vegetarian went into the market.
Second Breakfast! Said the hobbit in me as I tried to garner up a new appetite watching the local Siem Reap folk sip and slurp from their bowls at one of the most popular noodle establishments in town.
Chef Pola recommended the beef noodles – and they were quite amazing. I could only eat about 5 slurps and bites – but it was so worth being overfull – and overheated – seated next to the kitchen the combination of hot Cambodian humidity, kitchen heat, the emanating noodle broth steam was enough to knock over anyone, let alone those of us used to temperate climates. My Australian friends had hand fans – I had fan envy. Then we got iced coffee.
After second breakfast we ventured to the market (which you can see in my special post just about the market because it was so overwhelming with sights, sounds and smells). Then, with a bag of crickets and many desserts in our hands, we headed out into the suburbs to meet a family who makes rice noodles.
Rice fields as far as the eye can see – when we first pulled up to the family's home all I could see were chickens.
Tall, lanky, Cambodian chickens, so quick to run from my camera.
The family we met makes noodles by hand every day and brings them to market (night or day market) and sells them. They are true artisan noodles in a world where this process is not necessarily a dying art, but less common than it once may have been with the advent of factory noodles.
First the water comes to a boil.
Then the dough is made and placed into the noodle-squisher-out-device.
Then the noodles are soaked in cold water to stop the cooking process.
And pulled into small bundles to be brought to market.
Until I tasted these noodles I didn't know that you could actually taste a rice noodle – but these noodles had flavor and texture and were truly made by hand. I watched it happen.
Just down the street (maybe a few kilometers) is another family that makes rice wine.
Americans familiar with the process of making moonshine might recognize what is going on here. The rice wine is made pretty much in the same fashion.
The difference being that this family is not flavoring it with artificial blueberry flavoring and food coloring like the distilleries in Gatlinburg or other Southern US tourist locations. They are taking the rice and making pure spirit.
Then feeding the leftover rice by-product to these guys.
Who then create fertilizer for this garden.
"They are completely self-sufficient." Said Chef Pola as we wandered their property taking pictures. I proceeded to obsess over the dogs – the most tame example I had yet met in Cambodia.
And then there were ducks.
And children smiling for my camera.
After a morning of eating and gazing at rice products the most fitting lunch was most obviously
another bowl of rice noodles. I mixed mine up by getting curry flavor. I ate and looked forward to a refreshing dip in the pool.
On the way back our tuk-tuk passed by a temple just sitting there in the forest.