Banana quarters

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.


2 thoughts on “Banana quarters

  1. Joanne Katanick-Canavan

    Love reading your writing. All of your posts are sooo good! I feel like I’m there with you.
    Love, Auntie Jo

  2. Mark Conley

    Jen—your accounts are beautifully detailed and you transport me there with every new post. Enjoy each new adventure. Look forward to reading more.


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