Celebrity chefs from Paris to Los Angeles swear by Kampot pepper, a southwestern Cambodian spice with a tragic past that is now reclaiming its global pre-eminence. It is also proving to be "black gold" for some of its once-impoverished farmers, thanks in part to Kampot pepper last year being awarded a Protected Geographical Indication by the European Union. This identifies unique products — like Stilton cheese, Champagne or Darjeeling tea — as originating in a very specific region.
Back in the fall of 2014, we quietly launched Kambujatrading.com as a way to sell Kampot peppercorns. The launch was prior to our eventual trip to Cambodia at the end of the year. As we returned, our peppercorn trading business evolved into something more special. Prior to our relaunch a few weeks ago, we've had friends and family ask us what Kambuja Trading Co. really was about. I've decided to answer some of the most frequent questions in a two part series to keep short (kind of) and sweet.
This week, we are launching our first series of "FYI" journal posts regarding our coveted product, Kampot peppercorns. This product comes in three variations: black, red, and white and can be purchased directly here: link and go directly to the post to learn more.
Before visiting China and Cambodia, my idea of a sweatshops were completely different. Where visions of one extreme, like underaged kids behind factory machines, were replaced with a much more subtly disguised unjust system. Watch the short documentary series to catch a glimpse of what life is like as a textile worker, and I challenge you to ask yourself how our habits as consumers feed into this problem.
It's a few minutes past 7 a.m., the roosters have been crowing way before the sunrise and the smell of the neighbors burning styrofoam is so pungent that it tickles my nose with every breath. As I open my bamboo-latched hut to see an abundance of tropical fruit trees and lush hills that are rare in this rugged land, the latter seem menial. For the past few days I've apprenticed at a pepper farm and eco-tourism destination in a community outside of Kep, a sleepily beach town near the Vietnamese border.
The stars aligned just right for us upon arriving in Cambodia on our first day. Anthony and I planned out our itinerary prior to leaving, but we knew that once we got there the plans could go sideways. Luckily for us the first night turned out exactly how we had hoped
Seeing Angkor and the surrounding temples do it no justice, its simply something you need to experience for yourself. Till this day, no matter how many times we visit the temples, it continues to surprise us.
Access to quality ingredients for preparing dishes in the home is no longer reserved for Michelin rated French restaurants. The very same batch of Kampot Peppercorns we provided to The French laundry is now available for purchase in our webstore in limited quantities.
The Kambuja Family wants to wish you all happy holidays. It has been a busy year for us. We have been working hard to get the company up and running in time for the holidays, all while planning our next trip to Cambodia to meet with more traders and makers.
Surviving and moving forward meant having to forget the past. Some of those pasts were taken away from my parent’s generation during the Khmer Rouge rule. Art, along with the artists, educators, music and its musicians, government officials (my uncle who was a judge), were all taken away to be silenced and forgotten forever.