With countless titles lining bookstores like “Eat Right for your Blood Type” and “The Mediterranean Diet” it’s a wonder why no one has thought to market the “Third World Diet.” Cheap eating in Cambodia is healthy eating. Stir fry vegetables, for instance, are less than a third the price of Sihanoukville’s finest (and delicious) Tex Mex fare. Even the servings of nachos and burritos there, which cost a staggering $3-5, are about half of what they’d serve you in the American equivalent.
In America, poverty usually coincides with obesity. The cheaper the food, the worse it is for you, and the likelihood you’ll eat a lot of it. McDonald’s dollar menu, Taco Bell’s 4th meal, and 7-11’s $1 tequitos are just a few examples among thousands. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands. It’s the opposite here.
I don’t make a lot of money doing what I do, so when I have to find food on my own, I search for the cheapest option. This normally entails vegetables and rice or noodle, water mixed with Royal D — similar to Emergen-C, and coconut water straight from the nut.
Pictured above was my mid-afternoon snack at Mom’s house; a coconut and homemade soy milk. Soy beans cost about $.75 per kilo. Since mom and I don’t eat meat, we drank our protein for a fraction of the cost of what a fat steak would be. Plus, coconuts have everything you need (perfect hangover cure…not that I’d know anything about that) and are a mere $.38.
And you don’t go hungry, either. Case in point:
This is cha kreung and rice. It’s eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, and some other vegetables sauteéd in a mysterious sauce, paired with rice. Yes, yes. I know an American will go on about how bad white rice is, but it’s cheap and it’s not starchy filler like it can be on the other side of the ocean, especially since you can get all of your essential nutrients from the coconut. Plus, at the end of the day, there’s mangoes.
Mangoes are coveted in Cambodia. Mom used to have people steal them from her orchard, but she spread the word that if you ask, you can have, on the condition you eat them there and don’t take them home. Being her daughter, I get as many as I want. So, three a day. They keep your bowels regular and fill you up.
Of course, if you ever get homesick, you can always take advantage of colonialism and find some comfort food:
Don’t worry, the third world will eventually cancel out the cheese and baguette.