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Unripe Papaya

Unripe Papaya

We at Le Bar were honored that Ambrosia could find the time to come and assess our

humble fare.

We had intended to write and thank her at an earlier date but we also deemed it necessary

to research an issue she raised in her review (Vol. 1 No. 7). She found certain faults

with our Papaya Pok Pok, a traditional Thai salad.

Unfortunately, on this subject her knowledge of authentic Thai gastronomy does not

appear to be as extensive as her name would suggest. She complained about the following

points:

-She said the papaya was unripe and it was served with minute seemingly uncooked

crab legs which had little or no meat.

We were the first to introduce this salad to Phnom Penh and it was, and still is,

prepared for us by our young Thai hostesses. Needless to say, the Thais were most

embarrassed by this review and knowing the recipe quite intimately at this stage,

we feel we must inform you that her criticism was both misguided and unfounded.

First, Papaya Pok Pok uses green or as she stated unripe papaya, chopped in thin

segments, the idea being to use the papaya, as it is commonly used in Thailand, as

a vegetable and not a fruit. You crush the papaya with fresh, uncooked crab in order

to get a mixture of the juices of both. This is then seasoned with tomato, garlic,

herbs, fish sauce, lemon juice and then red chillis to taste. The entire ingredients

are then once again crushed and blended.

Secondly, the crab legs which Ambrosia found so unattractive are in fact presented

with the dish for aesthetic, decorative reasons. And are also there, as the connoisseur

knows, to be sucked on at will...they are not intended as food for hungry reviewers!

We hope that we have clarified any misunderstandings over the true nature of the

Pok Pok or Som Tam salad, as it is also known in the Kingdom. We also hope that we

have added in some way to Ambrosia's, presumably already extensive knowledge of oriental

cuisine.

We look forward to seeing Ambrosia, armed with this new knowledge, come to the recently

renovated Le Bar and try out a real Pok Pok salad, or if she finds that Pok Pok does

not suit her taste, she may be interested to hear that we have added a whole Khmer

section to our menu, served not only at Khmer prices but also at our new pleasant

terrace.

And whatever Ambrosia's feelings about frog's legs, she will most certainly be enchanted

by the crepes served from our terrace creperie. We look forward to "seeing"

the mysterious Ambrosia and we trust her next visit will be of mutual satisfaction.

- Staff and management of Le Ba

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