Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Be Careful What You Say to 5 Year Olds and Other Cooking Adventures

Having free time before our late evening flight out of Cambodia, we enrolled in a cooking class. It turned out to be one of the most engaging and fun experiences we had on our vacation. We were partnered with a dynamic British family, currently expatriates in Singapore. They had two bright kids, Charlotte, 14 and Tollie, 5 years old.

We started off the session by shopping for the freshest ingredients in a very local market.
Chicken feet, anyone?

I too have always wanted to fall asleep among my chilis and bananas...

We spent the afternoon chopping, slicing, grating, and pounding our ingredients before we expertly prepared them under the fine guidance of our Cambodian chef. All the while, we got to know our new friends and shared some laughs.

In the end after about 3 hours, we had this fabulous spread of food to feel proud of and enjoy.
Cambodian feast, bird's eye view

Who can resist fried fresh eggrolls?

Tart mango salad

Tollie, posing with the spring rolls that he himself expertly rolled

At the end of our day, we sat with our new friends and chatted for about an hour as we dined on our meal. Inevitably, the conversation turned, as it often does anytime there's a Brit (or any foreign person for that matter) and an American together, to a questioning of why America does a certain thing this way or that. In my travels around the world, I've heard the gamut of observations on American ways.

This particular evening, the question was about American currency, a topic which I have fielded from disgruntled foreigners before.

"Why does America have bills that are all the same color and size? It's confusing and it makes it easy to make a mistake when you hand over your money," Tollie's father inquired.

"The trick is you have to keep all your bills stacked together in same denominations and lined up bank face. That way you won't give the wrong bill."

"I'm a banker, for heaven's sake. I'm a really organized person."

I glanced down at his wallet. "Okay, well there's your problem. See, you have a ten and then some ones, and a twenty back there and over here. They are all turned different ways."

Tollie's dad gave me an annoyed look and the conversation was over as he stuffed the bills back in his wallet.

After we said goodbye and we parted ways, from a distance, I heard little Tollie chastising his father about the currency, "Daddy, you did it all wrong. You've got to put all the ones together, and then the twos together..."

Cambodia Travel Tip #6: Le Tigre de Papier is not only a great restaurant in Siem Reap, but a wonderful cooking school. Classes are offered 3 times a day at 10:00 am, 1:00 am, and 5:00 pm. They last 4 hours and cost $12 a person.


Ekua said...

I enjoy the conversations with foreigners on American ways. It's always kinda funny to hear what they have to say! I love the picture with the woman sleeping with her food!

Mary and Sean said...

I agree- there's lots of american stereotypes out there that are fun to dispel, or in some cases, confirm!

Carrie Stuart said...

Oh, that food looks so YUMMY! If we get to go here, I want to take a cooking class!

People have problems with our money? Seriously? It wouldn't occur to me that having money be the same size is a else do you keep it tidy? Wouldn't it be just a no-brainer to look at the numbers in the corner...every corner...and see how they are different from each other? It's not like we have so many different bills.

Now, a $5 coin...THAT'S a problem. WAY too easy to spend!

Mary and Sean said...

I'm with you... what's so hard about looking at it before you hand it over?

shopgirl said...

You guys are really cool. I would never think to take a class while on a short holiday. It is a great way to get to know more about the people and the culture.

p.s. I find that people always ask questions about obscure things without thinking before they speak. I find that currency in different colours is also confusing. When I used to travel more frequently, I used to get the twenties mixed up with the fives in England. Sometimes the colours of pounds and euros are similar too and if you rely on the colours, you can end up giving a twenty instead of a fiver by accident. Believe me, I've done it in Singapore and Britain relying solely on colour.

Don't mind the ignorant's inevitable. You did great trying to explain to other foreigners. I usually just smile and shrug my shoulders. I'm often defending the American culture and it does get exhausting sometimes...and I'm not even American.

Glad you're having a grand time!


Kirsten said...

What a deal for that cooking course! Looks like it was really fun. Funny on the money converesation. I've got quite a bit of "why are the 1's not coins? it doesn't make sense to have them paper...."

Fly Girl said...

Actually, I've always longed for different colored American bills as well! I think it does make them easier to organize and as a color lover, its just more aesthetically pleasing. However, I never would have schooled a Brit on what he was doing wrong! They typically don't take it well as you discovered. That first photo of you too is adorable and so is Tollie.

Anonymous said...

lol, nothing like the innocent of kids to teach stubborn parents new things :)

Shannon OD said...

Those rolls looked delicious! I took a class in Laos and it was so much fun to spend the day with all of these unique ingredients...and then eating it all of course! :-) I got similar comments about the US bills in Cambodia and explained it the same way! :-)

Shahrukh said...

I love all your picture and I feel the comments that are written add more life to the pictures.

I pray you have more and more adventures.

Mary and Sean said...

Thanks! I hope you get to have many adventures too


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