Ask anyone in Asia who grows the best rice and the answer is inevitably the nation of origin of the person questioned. In Cambodia, it’s likely to be an exact village of origin at a specific date. There is no room for objectivity because the rice harvest is chained to the national identity of every nation who eats it as their primary carbohydrate. Apparently, you can get caught up in the nationalistic fervour. Karen Coates over at Gourmet magazine’s food blog writes:
In years of bouncing around Southeast Asia, I’ve had many a conversation with locals and expats about the seeming superiority of Cambodian rice. I am not alone in my assessment. But why? Is it really better than rice in Thailand (my home for the past three years and therefore my natural point of comparison)? Or is it just my imagination?
Yes, it’s your imagination. Maytel also lands a bodyslam on the shaky agricultural underpinnings and the fetishization of poor farmers at their expense at Maytel:
But lets get one thing straight, subsistence peasant agriculture in the tropics is not some rare heirloom tomato variety found at your local USA farmers market. It’s not du puy lentils. There is nothing to glamorise and doing so often compromises the food security of these farmers. From what I found imposed ideals of ‘organic’/ ‘artisanal’ varieties, inevitably results in lower yields and is about as unhelpful as you can get in a country like Cambodia.