I’ve been seeing the carts around town, but only in passing from a tuk-tuk. There’s a profusion of street meat available in Phnom Penh, and look at the shapes here—it’s easy to see Jimmy Dean-style sausage links and patties. But the other morning the cart was parked right on the street where I was walking and I got a good look at the contents: bananas!
If you’ve ever been camping (we’ll count one weekend at Girl Scout camp in third grade, since that’s about the extent of my experience), or at a bonfire, you know bananas and fire are a great pair. The outside of the fruit caramelizes, and the inside becomes creamy and smoky.
I bought a skewer and the vendor charged me 1000 riels. The big number sounds like a lot, but there’s 4000 riels to the dollar. I realized I spent a quarter on my bananas, the same amount I paid for a banana at the fruit truck on my way to work every morning in New York.
I always made sure I had a quarter for the banana in my pocket before I got off the subway, and some time ago, at some bar, when I was counting out money for drinks and jabbering away to my pal Melissa about making sure I had 25¢ left for the morning, banana quarters became our inside joke.
And just like that, I was back in New York, walking up Lexington Avenue, and my friends on the other side of the world didn’t seem so far away.