I want to stay true to one of the reasons I moved abroad: to experience life like a local, not finding the Western way of doing things.
Enter our next adventure: buying groceries.
The supermarkets in Phnom Penh are much smaller than those in the US. There are more products available that I anticipated, but most condiments and dairy are imported (from the US!) and are way more expensive than in the US. Some produce and dry goods are imported too, and are sometimes in the same boat. Some essentials we need (i.e. olive oil, simple spices), but I’m challenging myself to change what and how I eat to complement what’s grown in Cambodia to fully experience living here. And save costs. $13 strawberries? I’ll pass.
Today we headed to Russian Market, a smorgasbord of produce, meats, fresh fish, pickled veggies, clothes, home goods and everything else. Felt like a mini Orussey Market, but much easier to navigate and closer to home. It’s like the Brentwood Farmers’ Market every day and night here. Although Russian Market, and other smaller markets around town, are not called “farmers’ markets,” just “markets,” and they’re cheaper and little more smelly 😉
We’ve learned that a lot of restaurants buy food each morning from these markets and sometimes even drive over and purchase ingredients after an order has been placed, so it’s super fresh, and they don’t have waste.
We’ve also learned that supermarkets buy produce here and mark it up to sell in their stores. Since learning this, we no longer buy produce at the supermarket.
It’s a mixture of sights, sounds and smells walking through the wet aisles. So many new types of lettuce, herbs and vegetables that I’d never seen. Promised myself I would purchase something I didn’t recognize each time and experiment.
I definitely need to learn to eye my cuts of chicken, pork, beef, etc. since nothing is labeled like the markets I’m used to. Some cuts are recognizable, but some are not.
- 1 dozen eggs ($1.37)
- 3 roma tomatoes, 3 large carrots, 2 garlic, 4 shallot, 10 baby cucumbers ($2.25)
- 1 large leek, baby chives, 1 large mushroom, bundle of enoki mushrooms ($1.75)
- 1 bunch bananas (14), 1 dragonfruit, 4 rambutan ($2.38)
I’d like to find stands that sells a lot of what I buy, and always buy there so they get to know me and give me deals. Also, I’m keeping track of prices so I can tell if next time I’m getting a better/worse deal and go/don’t go back to that stand. Generally people seem honest. They weigh everything. Produce tastes delicious and fresh. Everything has tasted delicious so far!