A woman holds a box of mooncakes at Aspara bakery in Phnom Penh. A box of four costs $10. Photograph: Chhim Sreyneang/Phnom Penh Post
As Cambodians gear up to celebrate the Chinese moon festival this Sunday, the streets and boulevards of Phnom Penh are crammed with red boothes competing to sell mooncakes and lanterns.
The Kingdom’s residents will celebrate the Chinese holiday this weekend by snacking on the sweet pastries filled with bean paste and yolked together with duck egg.
But one big bakery has taken a creative approach, beating the competition and selling the sugarly, 1,000-calorie treats – offering a diabetic alternative.
In response to the large percentage of the population who suffer from the condition, and more who fear developing it, Apsara bakery in Phnom Penh has created a special version for the festival.
There are some 300,000 people with diabetes in Cambodia, according to the Ministry of Health. But the number could be far higher, say doctors at International SOS, given the total of those who have not yet been diagnosed.
Chan Angkeara, deputy general manager of Apsara bakery, said she had thought about making diabetic cakes as long as six years ago but this year is the first year the shop started producing the cakes.
“In Cambodia, there are many people suffering from diabetes – especially elderly people. They want to eat mooncakes, but their children stop them from buying them, saying they’re too sweet and unhealthy. So we started to make special cakes to cater to the demand from diabetic patients.”
Angkeara imports sugar from Singapore suitable for people with diabetes to make the cakes, which are sold in boxes of four for $10 and have proved popular with customers.
“In our country, many people suffer from this disease. The shop is clever to make this kind of cake so that patients can also enjoy it.”
Song Leap, a shopowner from Russian Market and a regular customer at Apsara, said that the new snack has allowed his 69-year old diabetic father to eat the cakes again with warm tea – a favourite ritual before he developed the condition.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chhim Sreyneang at [email protected]