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Globalization in Cambodia: Something Sweet (Part I of III)

by Jeff Cook

One night in Sihanoukville, a touristy coastal town, I decided to take an stroll on the beach after dinner.  As I headed back from the beach to my hotel, I walked down a busy backpacker street and came upon a food stall selling roti.  (Roti is a flatbread that can be filled with a variety of things much like a crepe.)  Although roti and roti food stalls are very popular in Thailand, I had never seen one in Cambodia before.  I decided to stop for a bit and hear how the vendor came to be selling roti in Cambodia.  It turned out that this was just his second week in the roti business.  He explained that before selling roti he had sold hot dogs.  But the hot dog sales were slumping, and one day an Australian tourist, who no doubt had just come from Thailand, relayed the wonders of roti.  Looking to capitalize on this newfangled product that was supposedly popular with tourists, the vendor first needed to learn more about roti.  Paying the 25 cents it costs for internet access, he turned to google for assistance.  With all the necessary information being only a keystroke and click away, he quickly found a myriad of roti recipes.  He then bought the ingredients and gave it a whirl even though he had never actually seen, eaten or made roti before.  He was proud of his new concoction and quickly changed the signage on his food stall.  Just like that, he became the first roti street vendor in Cambodia.  And a mere two weeks later, thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit and the ease by which information can be shared and accessed, I was enjoying freshly made roti stuffed with banana and nutella.  Delicious.