Since I’ve been trying to figure out how one guy eating bat soup collapsed the world economy, I thought it would be interesting to post this little video of the time I ate what many consider the most disgusting, strangest, and unsafe thing … Balut, or pong tia koon as it’s called in Cambodia.
I was there shooting a documentary in Phnom Penh with my compatriot Sami Joensuu and we asked one of the local handlers to take us to the real Phnom Penh. He brought us to the central night market which was teeming with life; seemed like the entire city descends upon this epicenter of hawker stalls to chow down and chat up.
Wanting to try the ultimate delicacy, he brought us to this food hall that was known for their Pong Tia Koon. Basically what you are getting in for is a duck egg that is about half way through it’s gestation period. Inside the egg the unhatched chick is boiled, then served up warm with a bunch of accoutrement like lime leaf, chili pepper and seasoned salt.
First the smell hits you. It’s a mixture of egg and soup. It’s intense. Then the texture hits you. The chick, although fully formed with feathers, beaks and claws, is rather gelatinous, except for a hard, waxy white piece which I was told was part of the embryonic sac that feeds the development of the chick. Then, finally, there is the taste, which to be honest, isn’t that bad. It’s like really intense egg, and when you start adding the citrus, salt and heat of the birdseye chili its not bad, but still cannot save you from the thought that you just put a rubbery chick head in your mouth hole.
The entire experience was intense as you can see. The Cambodian people are super lovely, and really enjoy sharing their culture. Trust me I had some of the best meals of my life in Cambodia, and while this was by far the strangest, I would never call it disgusting, just, unnerving. Perhaps the funniest part was when we were asked if we enjoyed it, and as polite people we said, “Bat. La nasa.” (yes. very good) to be polite, which unexpectedly got us an immediate other round of Pong Tia Koon we certainly did not want, no were ready for. Hence, the time I ate two Balut against my will.
If you wanna see more random crap I get myself into … www.youtube.com/travelclast