Displaced Yankee Productions | Fried Frog?

Fried Frog?

After the pleasant fare on the menu the night before at the hotel restaurant, I opt to skip breakfast altogether. I have no desire to get sick or have to use a bathroom here after a rather vivid description of a local water closet and the need to “deet” my backside because of the amount of flies. We head back to wait for the ferry and SoPhy continues his quest to revolt me by buying Art a large bag of deep fried crickets. Art, ever the hungry one, is eager to try and encourages me to participate. Since I wouldn’t even eat breakfast at our sketchy hotel that morning, I have no idea why he thinks I would suddenly be craving toasted insects. And certainly not after SoPhy warns against getting a “soggy” one. Art pops a few in his mouth and decides they are not so good after all. Well, I certainly could have told him that BEFORE he put one in his mouth.
We slip, slide, curse and glide our way down the slick mud road to Meng Ly’s house once more. I am fairly certain we have left portions of our van in various places along the way. The boys are happy to see us and we spend some time talking to the parents about their lives and the difficulties of surviving as farmers in the provinces and the lack of opportunity for the young people there. They are so happy that Meng Ly is living at CCF and getting a chance at a better life. We film them as they go about their every day activities. Meng Ly chops wood, builds a fire and helps his mother prepare food. His father digs large baskets of dirt from the cornfields and hauls them back to work on a barrier against the rain. We spend some time getting some establishing shots of the cornfield and quickly discover how boring corn looks on film. Then Art notices a large frog on the ground. In an effort to stage a small boy farm scene, he tells Meng Ly’s younger brother to catch the frog. He happily obliges and we smile in amusement as he pounces through the corn stalks chasing the frog.

Our happy scene takes quite an unexpected turn however, when the boy catches the frog and before our shocked and quite unprepared eyes, he grabs the frog by the back legs and rips it apart, flinging it in the air. I am treated to a rather gross close up of this on the monitor and Nin, Art, SoPhy and I are a bit speechless. I accuse Art of involuntary Frogacide and we decide this is footage that will never see the light of day. Then we realize his little brother has caught yet another frog. We holler at Nin to tell him to stop killing the frogs and hustle him out of the cornfield to where the family is preparing to eat lunch. We decide now is a perfect time to take a break in the air conditioned van from the oppressive heat and disturbing serial amphibian killing and drink some water. And try not to think about stuffed frogs on the menu and how they might have gotten there.
There is only one option for lunch at a small “restaurant” in the village. Restaurant is a strong word. Let us instead call it a hut with a couple of fly covered plastic tables and chairs. There is an open fire and a pot, on which the proprietor is cooking the one option for lunch. Noodles in broth with pig’s meat. There is a picture of a pig on the sign out front and raw pork sitting in a bowl with bugs on the floor. Art and I politely ask for our noodle soup sans pork. Our three Cambodian crewmates don’t seem to be bothered by this and apparently have steel lined stomachs. A glass of brackish warm water with used plastic chopsticks is placed on the table for our use. Art urgently asks if I brought my disposable ones with me but Nin is one step ahead of us. She has asked for a glass of boiling water and is busy disinfecting the chopsticks. I watch in fascination as a boy rigs up a fan for us by taking the exposed ends of two stripped fan wires and shoves them into a socket. When he doesn’t fall over from electric shock, a nice breeze emerges to cool us off. I eat about a half a dozen bites of the noodles and opt to wait for dinner. I may lose weight this trip after all.
When we return, Meng Ly and Saroeurn have changed into old clothes and wide hats and are carrying home made fishing poles to head to the river to fish. We follow them to the river and learn a bit about their fishing technique. Art and I try a hand at it, but none of us actually catch anything – the river is too high and the current to fast this afternoon. We finish the day with Meng Ly’s formal interview and wrap it up just in time. The rain clouds are rolling in and we need to get out of the village fast before it starts to come down and floods the road, trapping us. We hustle the equipment back to the van and say our goodbyes. We’re heading back a day early but don’t dare stay with the rains coming. We’ve gotten what we came for however and all of us are eager to be back in the city for a shower and a real bathroom. On the way, we stop at a roadside stand where they are boiling corn and buy some hot ears for the road. We can’t go all the way to Kandal and not have some of the corn we reason. Of course, once I unwrap my steaming brownish stalk, I realize I probably COULD have done without it. But when in Rome – I bit in.


7 − = six