Kampot Pepper – Old Spice
Kampot: I am sitting under an impossibly large sky, the few errant clouds merely faint wisps on a canvas of clear, perfect blue. From high up on Starling Ridge I gaze out over the tops of pepper towers that stand like sentinels across the landscape. The view out over the valley is sweeping and vast; islands sit like gems in the ocean off the coast. It is a moment to cause a man’s mind to reach out to the scars in the earth and to wander amongst the history of this ancient land.
I am in a place once occupied by the Malay, (Cham), by the Cheav, (Javanese), by the Chinese; a place where the Vietnamese and the Siamese have fought, won and lost countless times, over many centuries and where the Khmer still fought with themselves till the very end of the last millennium. The mountains here rise dramatically and are littered with ancient temples, strong magic; ghosts like Lok Yay Mao live here as do witches like Lok Yay Phnom Sor.
Spread out like a verdant quilt between the mountains and the sea, Kampot is Buddha’s own country, with soils famous for their fertility, waters famous for their purity, produce that is regarded as the best in the land and an abundance of the freshest and finest creatures of the sea.
At the height of French colonial Indochine, the very best chefs from Paris-to-Lyon would insist upon Kampot pepper for their kitchens. Renowned for its spice, intensity, citrus notes and fruity characters; Kampot pepper has long been regarded as the finest in the world.
Pepper has been grown in the area for a thousand years, its quality remarked upon ever since Chinese explorer Tchéou Ta Kouan described it in his journal in the 1200’s as ‘something to savour’.