Oct 30 2012
I should declare my interest first: my husband is the director of the Center for Khmer Studies, a research centre and library in the grounds of Wat Damnak, which makes him the only person I know who gets to go to work along fragrant, frangipani-lined paths, and settle down to his desk in a beautiful, specially constructed wooden library building and tap-tap all day to the sounds of children’s laughter and monks chanting. I’m not even slightly resentful, I promise.
From time to time, the centre has hosted talks from people who are doing interesting things in Siem Reap and, believe me, there are lots of them, but has recently decided to do this on a more regular, monthly basis. The latest held in Siem Reap was led by chef Joannes Riviere, the owner of Cuisine Wat Damnak, one of the most exciting restaurants in Cambodia, if not the region, in my view. Joannes is an exceptionally talented chef whose exquisite balances of tastes and textures will leave you begging for more. And he’s also become something of an expert on Cambodian cooking, which is the basis for his own recipes, which are deeply rooted in Cambodian ingredients and traditions but executed with French know-how. His talk covered the importance and the traditions of soups in Cambodian cuisine – I can assure you that his version of chicken soup is like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.
Next month’s talk, on November 8 at 17:30, will be led by Jean-Baptiste Chevance, an archaeologist who has been working on sites and with communities on Phnom Kulen for several years now. This site is where the Khmer Empire’s first king was crowned in 802 CE and home to a number of important archaeological monuments which Jean-Baptiste’s organisation is also helping to restore. It is also vulnerable as a result of deforestation and conversion to mono-agriculture, which impact not only the environment but also the livelihoods and security of the people that live there.
Future talks promise to feature some of the many talented, interesting people in town including artists, activists, historians, archaeologists, political scientists, geographers, linguists, and more. They promise to offer an insight into aspects of the extraordinary work that is being carried out by hundreds of people to understand more about Cambodian history and culture.
The talks will be informal and followed by a question and answer session, and there will be a few refreshments available. To find out more details of future lectures, check out the Center for Khmer Studies’ website where information will be posted once speakers are confirmed.
Centre for Khmer Studies
T: (063) 964 385
Open Mon-Fri 08:00-17:30
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