The Ministry of Environment is holding a launch event on May 11 to celebrate its publication of the Guidebook on Spices in Cambodia.
The book aims to increase the public’s knowledge about the plants traditionally used as spices in the Kingdom since ancient times – many of which remain popular ingredients in foods eaten here today.
According to its press release, the book will be officially launched at the second National Kesor Kol Forum on the Kingdom’s wild orchid species on May 11 at the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC) in Phnom Penh under the chairmanship of environment minister Say Samal.
“The initial reason we started preparing the Guidebook on Spices in Cambodia for the first time was to identify and document their biological and physical benefits and record the traditional knowledge of how to use the herbs as medicines to maintain people’s health and cure diseases that people have been practicing since ancient times – as well as their role as ingredients in everyday foods,” ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post.
The book will be distributed to the public, members of the press, representatives of various institutions and students who attend the forum and visit the Kesor Kol wild orchid exhibition from 8:30am to 5pm.
The book is 85 pages in length and names 43 plants by explaining their origin and how they are used in foods or as medicines.
Ros Rotanak – also known as Chef Nak, one of Cambodia’s few celebrity chefs – has, in addition to cooking the dishes, spent considerable time researching Khmer cuisine and its plant ingredients.
She said she believes that compiling the book was an important step in order for Cambodia to document its own cultural practices – for the benefit of Cambodians and to aid researchers, academics and chefs around the world.
“It is a good thing that the ministry has such a book. Our country needs to do more to document our own culture and history, because we haven’t been producing many books like this for a long time due to the war,” she said.
Rotanak said she would attend the launch event and was excited to read the book and gain more knowledge that she can share with the public as part of her ongoing study of foods and plants.
“I will participate because this is an interesting topic to me that I want to learn about and I hope to continue to be able to share the knowledge I gain with fans of my cooking show and through my other projects,” she said.
According to the environment ministry, the organisation of the second National Kesor Forum is to promote public awareness of Cambodia’s Kesor Kol – a type of wild orchid that only grows in the Kingdom and that has become increasingly rare.
“This forum is designed to share information on the progress of the Kesor Kol Sok An Phnom Kulen Research and Conservation Centre and contribute to the promotion of ecotourism and the Kesor Kol researcher network to strengthen the conservation of wild Kesor Kol in Cambodia,” the ministry said.
The forum will also feature a display of wild Kesor Kol, hybrid Kesor Kol and other rare plant species. There will also be a variety of natural and green products for sale.
During the ceremony, certificates of appreciation will be given to other stakeholders who participated in the conservation and promotion of Kesol Kol.
The forum will be attended by representatives from various ministries, institutions, embassies, private sector partners and national and international experts on conservation and orchids.
Students, domestic or international tourists and the general public are all welcome to visit the event free of charge on May 11.