Of Ancestors and Angels: Happy Chinese New Year

If we approach new ideas, experiences, and people with a mind open to similarities instead of closed to differences, we may find that there are more similarities than differences and that the differences actually add value to, instead of diminishing, our lives. When my wife, a Cambodian-Chinese-American, and I were first married, I resisted all…

French Presses and Prejudices

On my first day at the corporate coffee company I worked at for over a decade, the manager and assistant manager who hired me sat me down for orientation. Along with new-hire paperwork and orientation materials, they handed me a little book that resembled a passport. They each had one as well. Theirs had stickers…

Do You Know How to Eat Bitter?

The first time I was served Chinese bitter melon by my wife’s family, I was asked if I knew how to eat bitter foods. Bitterness is not really a flavor familiar to the American palate, so I told them I was honestly not sure. I was familiar with sour foods, but not bitter. Being willing…

Taste The Soup (Before You Change It)

My wife and my first date was at a Vietnamese restaurant. We were going to go eat Thai food, but she wanted to stay closer to home because she was nervous about going out on a date with someone she only knew from the coffee shop in a country she had only lived in for…

Sachko Prahok Chaw (An Acquired Taste)

Many foods that are considered ‘delicacies’ in their place of origin are ‘an acquired taste,’ as the saying goes, elsewhere. In the cuisine of Southeast Asia, there are many such foods, but in Cambodian food, the star is prahok. Prahok is paste made from crushing, salting, and fermenting certain types of fatty river fish that…