Chewing over the benefits of letting food sit – for a bit

ARTillery’s wellness dinner will include dishes like fermented purple cabbage and apple. Photo supplied
ARTillery’s wellness dinner will include dishes like fermented purple cabbage and apple. Photo supplied

Chewing over the benefits of letting food sit – for a bit

Bacteria isn’t normally a good topic of conversation at the dinner table, but Brittany Sims and Robert Lucas are breaking taboo for Phnom Penh’s first “wellness dinner” at ARTillery Café. They’ll be talking guts, digestion and bacteria over a feast of fermented and probiotic delights they claim can help improve consumers’ health on a microscopic level.

Upset stomachs can be all too familiar for those who choose to live or travel in the region, which is what led Sims, the owner of ARTillery Café, to host the “Nurture your Culture” event on Sunday.

“Living here, we are often bombarded by tummy troubles, which unfortunately can become the norm,” she said. “When the bacteria in the gut become out of balance, it has a big effect on your overall health and immune system.”

Fermented and pickled foods help because the process of preserving foods created lactic acid and probiotics that aid digestion, said Sims, while fermented foods also contained healthy bacteria, which increase the numbers in the gut to provide extra protection and immunity from problematic stomach bugs.

The dinner is set to be an educational eating experience, explaining to guests how fermented foods can improve their health, and be incorporated into an everyday diet.

A common misconception, said Lucas, who is the founder of Jiva Probiotics drinks, was that foreigners needed to steer clear of local foods to maintain a healthy stomach abroad.

But Lucas pointed out that there was a smorgasbord of gut-friendly foods on offer in Cambodia.

“Cambodia has a very rich tradition of fermentation,” he said. “Prahok would be the most famous example, which is the pungent fermented fish paste. Other examples include fish sauce, pickled vegetables, and sour palm fruit juice.”

These traditional fermentation techniques also inspired the “Nurture your Culture” menu, which is vegan and gluten-free.

“For the dinner, we are blending Asian and Western influences,” Lucas said. “So you will see things like pickled bok choy and Kampot pepper, and green mango spring rolls with miso dipping sauce.”

The ‘Nurture Your Culture’ dinner is on Sunday at 6pm at ARTillery Café in the 240½ alley. Tickets are $18. To book, email [email protected].

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