This may be a case of saving the best for last. Or maybe it was simply a coincidence that Oudong was the last place we visited in Cambodia.
Either way, here at the foot of the mountain, vendors from the local villages gather to sell all sorts of picnic food to the city folk who come to the mountain on weekends to “get away from it all” and relax.
Places along the road rented comfortable (well, if you’re Cambodian, I guess) resting places with clean mats and hammocks where visitors can relax after climbing the mountain and eating their fill of the fresh food.
The variety of food was incredible. Just above, for example, you see a tempting plate of battered fried ants. This was a food people were reduced to during the terrible years of starvation under the Khmer Rouge, and they discovered they were quite good. Fried ants, that is, not the Khmer Rouge. And so fried ants continue to be a popular snack food today.
Other tempting dishes included skewers of grilled frogs, grilled fish, some kind of custard, fried soft-shell crabs, olives, grilled chicken and <um, something>, some kind of small bird being defeathered in advance of grilling, and to go with it all, a nice salad with basil and hot peppers.
The line of vendors was endless, and the variety of food mind-boggling. Here we have the eggs of some kind of small bird and a spicy bean salad, grilled <um, something>, fried ants prepared with hot peppers, snails, grilled turtles, and salad.
Everyone here was getting ready for the lunchtime crowd.
Our one regret is that we didn’t eat any of this. The Beth Israel Hospital Travel Clinic had cautioned us too severely. But if I had known I was already sick, for sure I should have done it.
Spicy fried ants with mystery-stuffed grilled banana-leaf packets, yum!