While I occasionally rue the quality of olives at a Phnom Penh tapas joint or regularly spend the average Cambodian monthly income on a single meal, about a third of Cambodians are malnourished. There isn’t any irony in writing about food in a country where I regularly meet starving people. Occasionally, they are eating from the rubbish bin at the front of my house. While I’d personally like to feed the 5 million Cambodians who don’t have enough to eat (or at least, foster an economic environment where they can feed themselves), it is well beyond my daily production of bin-worthy leftovers. However, it isnâ€™t beyond UN World Food Programme, who expect to reach about 1.4 million of my immediate neighbours in 2006.
This year the annual food writing community’s fundraiser, Menu For Hope, is being held in aid of World Food Programme. It’s the world’s largest online food raffle â€“ last year it raised almost enough to buy a new white Landcruiser. I would love to offer the traditional Australian pub raffle prize, the meat tray, but I’m predicting that most prize winners would not appreciate being mailed a selection of Cambodia’s finest meats and charcuterie.
In lieu of being able to post you pounds of flesh; I’m ponying up half a kilo of Kampot pepper. It’s the best pepper that the world has to offer, bar none. If you’re not in Cambodia I will send the winner a vacuum packed, Quarantine-friendly bag; if you’re in Phnom Penh, I’ll buy it fresh, drop it at a mutually agreed location and throw in a meat tray to the value of 80,000 riel (or your choice of Cambodian beer, muscle wine or Spy to the same value).
Want to be in the running for this and other fabulous prizes from the online food writing fraternity? Or just need to donate cash to assuage the middle-class guilt that comes from living a First World lifestyle in the Third World?
Buy your tickets at FirstGiving. Each $10 that you pitch in will give you a ticket for a prize of your choice. You can specify a desired prize in the comment area of the donation form. To go for the pepper, add the code “AP17″ to your comment (e.g. “$10 for AP17″). Pim has a list of the other, more fabulous prizes.
More coverage to come.