Urban Brokers of Rural Cuisine: Assembling National Cuisine at Cambodian Soup-Pot Restaurants


  • Hart Nadav Feuer Kyoto University




Cambodia, Food, National Cuisine, Nutrition, Urbanization


Pre-prepared food venues (or soup-pot restaurants) in Cambodia and other Asian countries make their decisions about what to cook in a complex food–society nexus, factoring in their culinary skill, seasonality of ingredients, and diners’ expectations for variety. As such, soup-pot restaurants exist as tenuous brokers between rural food customs and the prevailing expectations of city dwellers. In urban areas, they are a transparent window into seasonality and market cycles, as well as an opportunity to encounter culinary diversity and participate in the consolidation of an everyday ‘national cuisine’. Soup-pot restaurants, in contrast to other restaurant formats, craft an experience that balances the agricultural and social dynamics of rural eating customs with city comforts. Typically, soup-pot restaurants can accomplish this while also serving as a space of dietary learning, providing meals that are culturally understood to be balanced and nutritious, and garnering support for local cuisine from across the socio-economic spectrum. As a site of research, these restaurants can be seen as potential innovators for managing the consequences of industrialization on food and agriculture, facilitating democratic daily practices of food sovereignty.

Author Biography

Hart Nadav Feuer, Kyoto University

Hart N. Feuer is assistant professor at the Division of Natural Resource Economics, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, and former senior research fellow at the Center for Khmer Studies (CKS) in Cambodia.  Contact: hfeuer@gmail.com






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