Sitting among Phsar Olympic hawkers selling frogs, pickled fish, water lilies and other delicacies, a table of construction workers enjoyed plates of dog meat Sunday.
In between bites, they said they were unaware of—and indifferent to—Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema’s comments last week, in which he stated that dog meat should become a larger part of the Cambodian diet, especially for poor people.
“Come on, dog meat is so delicious,” Kep Chuktema said Wednesday. “The Vietnamese and Koreans love to eat dog meat.”
Tith Oeun, 42, a construction worker eating at the stall, said he didn’t care whether an official approved of his eating dog.
“What I eat is my business,” he said as he mixed the meat with red sauce and lemongrass, then washed it down with a glass of Chinese herbal liqueur.
“After working hard all day, dog meat makes me feel healthy,” Tith Oeun said.
In a Saturday statement, King Norodom Sihanouk did not condemn eating dogs outright, but he expressed his affection for the animals.
“I was born in the year of the dog and I have always loved ‘purebred’ or even ‘plebian’ dogs because of their virtues: intelligence, tenderness and loyalty,” he wrote.
Though he is not a vegetarian, the King wrote, he is increasingly distressed by the slaughter of any animal and has been eating less meat as a result.
The vendor presiding at the stall over a massive bowl of dog stew and a platter stacked high with fat, reddish-brown sausages said she sold only one dog’s worth of meat—about 10 kg—per day, down from two or three dogs a day one year ago.
She attributed the decline to people not having enough money for the meat, which costs 2,000 riel (about $0.50) per plate. But sales will improve “because it’s delicious,” she said. “When people have more money, they will want to eat more dog.”