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New cookbook whisks up feast

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090325_22.jpg

Women's International Group of Cambodia accomplishes organisational and culinary feat

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Women’s International Group of Cambodia.

That old maxim that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach may well be proven by a recent cookbook from the Women's International Group of Cambodia (WIG).

Created to fundraise for the group's charitable work, this full-colour, 195-page collection features 64 recipes from 24 different countries, all of them tried and tested by the busy hands and discerning palettes of WIG members.

The book was published and launched last November with the help of the main sponsor, the recently closed Cambo Six, and co-sponsor, Telekom Malaysia International Cambodia (Hello), as well as six months of toil and stirring, whisking and frying by WIG members.

Established in 1994, WIG is a coalition of "ordinary women doing extraordinary things", as Malaysian-born cookbook co-ordinator Lee Say Lor said.

With over 100 members from 30 nations organising a range of activities and monthly meetings with topical guest-speakers, WIG provides a social network for women living in Cambodia. However, WIG's other major focus is fundraising for charity through their membership fees and annual Christmas fair.

The organisation aims to fund around 10 projects each year, ranging from purchasing cows for a women's community cow bank, water filters for a silk factory and pharmaceuticals for former prostitutes, to funding the publication of children's storybooks.

"We try to give to those projects which don't get support from mainstream funding ... and are sustainable," said WIG president Dorte Kieler

Organisational feat

WIG's cookbook is a product of the diversity and energy of its members. With all aspects of its production including recipes, text and editing, food-preparation and photography, graphics, design and funding organized by the WIG members themselves, the project was an organisational as well as culinary feat.

The book's composition reflects an intercultural ethos.

"It seemed inappropriate to organise the book in the standard categories of appetisers or breakfasts and dinners because what's considered breakfast in one culture ... might be considered lunch or dinner in Western culture," said Ashley Young, a member of the WIG cookbook team.

Recipes and their complete Khmer translations are therefore grouped into Light Choices, Main Choices and Sweet Choices, and the book also includes a beginner's briefing on the Cambodian market.

"The local market is such an integral part of Cambodian life, but to a foreigner it can be a bit daunting," said Lee Say Lor.

And where food customs can often prove mystifying, alienating or plain bizarre, it is hoped the book will give cooks the confidence and insight to brave unchartered culinary waters.

"We also want more Cambodians to try out foreign recipes. Food is a great cross-cultural bridge," said Lee Say Lor.

The cookbook can be purchased from the Reading Room, Ida and Ira Gallery, Silk and Pepper, Angkor Soaps, Amatak Spa and DoriThy Gallery.

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