Last updated on September 25th, 2017
Proper Fork and Spoon Etiquette
Cambodians don’t usually eat meals with their hands. They use a spoon and a fork. Meats and vegetables are usually served cut up in sufficiently small pieces, so you won’t need a knife. But for smaller children who can easily choke on foods, you’ll have to ask for a knife from your host or the waiter.
Use the fork to push food and particularly rice into your spoon, then lift the spoon into your mouth. Repeat until satiated! If you are right handed, use the spoon with your right hand. Lefties, put the spoon in your left hand.
Only children slurp the soup from the side soup bowl, grown ups use spoon. It’s OK to take the small ball in your left hand while you attempt to put liquid and floating meats and veggies in your spoon, then the spoon into your mouth. If the side soup has glass noodles, then use your fork to push it into the spoon.
When to Use Chopsticks in Cambodia
We don’t use chopsticks unless we are eating noodles. I personally find it difficult to juggle with sticks and rice. Use a spoon to eat rice, not your sticks.
Cambodians don’t usually put their lips to the plate in order to shove rice into their mouth with sticks. As explained above, put rice into your spoon, then spoon into your mouth!
How to Get Clean Cutlery at a Restaurant
You’ve probably noticed that in some restaurants as you sit down at your table. The waitress will bring a glass of hot water. This is not for you to drink (neither is the small bowl of lemony water on your side). The small bowl is for you to dip your fingers. And the glass of hot (preferably very hot or just off the boil), is to sterilise your cutlery.
Sometimes, the waiter won’t bring the glass of hot water, but you can always ask for it. And if the water is just tepid, you can ask for hotter water.
Hygiene has improved in Cambodian restaurants, but to be on the safe side, you’ll want to make sure you’re using cleanly washed cutlery. Do as the locals!
I have this friend who is in the habit of cleaning his cutlery with fresh lime. He usually has to ask the waiter for a small plate of lime slices that he then uses to rub on his glasses, sticks, spoons, forks, knives, even plates at time (after of course having them sterilised in a pitcher of boiling water).
Don’t forget to rinse you tea cups with hot tea. Just pour the excess rinse water in one of the cups.