Crossroads of Asia

By Ariana Lindquist

Published on May 26, 2010

One of the things that amazed me the most when I first traveled to Cambodia was the tremendous variety of greens available at markets. Cambodia has for centuries been an intersection for Asian cultures, and though I live in China and travel all around the region, I had rarely seen that many vegetables in one place. This last January, in the tiny Cambodian village of Kampot, on the country's southern coast, I visited a small market where vegetable sellers were setting out their offerings in the soft morning light. In addition to greens I was familiar with, such as choy sum, I saw heads of mustard greens, as well as bundles of pea greens, which were piled under large, sturdy umbrellas. In one area a group of women were selling a vine with thick, arrowhead-shaped leaves I was told is called salung. At food stalls later in the day, I saw more women cooking deep green noni leaves in Thai-like curries and sauteing water spinach with garlic and oil as I'd seen cooks do in China. Even in this sleepy town, the wealth and variety of greens available to every home cook offered a kind of virtual tour of the foodways of Asia. — Ariana Lindquist, photograher

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