A Little Too Meaty: Cambodia's Cow Market

The “cow market” isn’t on Cambodia’s tourist trail. Slimy, muddy and smelling like rotted grass, this is where those with iron stomachs can walk past human faeces or watch old men slurp up still full dog intestines cooked in broth as heartily as if they were noodles!

Not surprisingly, I was a Western novelty when NGO worker/missionary Jim Dawson took me to this Phnom Penh market in 2002. The stalls mostly sell meat — everything from recogniseable cuts to live eels, chicken entrails and severed pig snouts — and are run by women, who giggled and whispered about me as I took their portraits.

The proprietor of this small general store is striking for her dignity and strength. She makes a wonderful symbol for contemporary Cambodia, looking forward after such a ravaged past. She also reminds me of a relaxed mother hen, with her brood of five tucked behind her wings.

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