Enjoying for a good cause

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Friends-International’s creative Cambodian recipe book ‘From Spiders to Water Lilies’ was successfully launched in Germany in December 2008. Featuring exquisitely colorful photographs of Cambodia and its buzzing markets and presenting an impressive variety of delicious ingredients and dishes, it is the first-of-its-kind in Germany.

This long overdue documentation of a completely undiscovered cuisine of the East was highly welcomed by German gourmands and hobby cooks. Within only 2 weeks after the launch 900 copies of this exceptional culinary journey were sold.

“Enjoying for a good cause” is the motto of the German publishing house which partnered with Friends-International and donates 5€ (about $7.50) per sold book directly to Friends’ aid projects in Cambodia. Gisela Schneider, representative of Friends’ support office in Frankfurt will accept the first 5000€ cheque beginning of March, presented by German celebrity Birte Karalus on behalf of the publisher.

Traveling across Germany, from the Frankfurt book fair to the Leipzig one -some of the biggest in the world- and accompanied by TV advertising, a documentary and the first Cambodian cooking experiments on German TV shows is helping to spread the word about Friends’ renowned vocational trainings for disadvantaged street youth.

Not only is the book the first one in Germany with traditional, authentic Cambodian recipes with modern twists and tweaks, but it also allows a peek behind the scenes of Friends’ training restaurant ‘Romdeng’ in Phnom Penh. Its students are proud to show the world that the small kingdom in the south-east of Asia has so much more to offer than just the Temples of Angkor.

Gustav Auer, manager of Friends’ hospitality training and co-author of the book says, “It’s great that my relatives in Austria can now go to their favorite bookstore and find our cookbook on the shelves, but it’s not the sales that give me a sense of accomplishment. It’s this email I received only 2 days after the German launch”:

“I have just bought the German version of your brilliant Cambodian cookbook and I will give it to my dad for Christmas. This was just the gift I was looking for and I´m sure he will be as overwhelmed as I was when I found it. My dad is Cambodian but left the country almost 40 years ago. Ever since he was trying to copy his mum´s dishes as he remembered them from his childhood. But as you can imagine it is quite hard to copy something only from your “smell and taste memory” without any recipes. So he was always looking for some recipes and now, after years of waiting and searching I come along your book and could hardly believe my eyes. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS BOOK. I love the pictures, I love the recipes and I´m deeply impressed by the effort, the love, the fun and commitment that all of you put into this project. Thank you so much.”

Hoping to set a trend for Cambodian cooking in Germany, Friends yet looks forward to making many new friends who are as passionate about Cambodia’s (food) culture as we are and who will help us to build better futures for the countries’ most vulnerable.

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