My Banana Milo

posted by Sumon Ray

It was a celebration in the mouth!  I rushed to open the rest of the wrapper that held the chocolate banana pancake milo in place. I held it like a child because I didn’t want such a sweet and delicate thing to drop on the muddied streets of Siem Reap. I got into my tuck-tuck and ate away. Any kind of etiquette or good manners went over my head.  I nibbled into the chocolate banana milo with the beat of tuck-tuck noises and bumps along my journey back to the bed and breakfast I was staying at.  I was a hot mess with chocolate and bananas from the milo going all over the place. At that moment, I didn’t give a care and allowed my indulgence in that milo to take care of all my worries in the world.

All my favorite items were compiled in this dessert item served on the crowded streets of Siem Reap. A banana pancake looking crepe is the base of the dessert. Then, a stream of condensed milk is showered on the thin layer of banana pancake. After the banana pancake absorbs and hugs the thick condensed milk, banana slices are decorated from the top to the bottom of the pancake. The banana milo vendor rolled up the pancake containing the banana and condensed milk until was tightly holding it in place. Next, a familiar bottle of Hershey chocolate sauce that I used for my chocolate milk back home in the United States was used to garnish the top of the banana milo.  My mouth was watering as I watched the milo vendor finish up my order. I quickly took out  3000 riel which is the equivalent of 75 cents in the United States. I handed the money over to the vendor and grabbed the bag as if I was a child anxiously waiting to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Suddenly, I noticed a little boy staring at the banana milo stand from it’s glass window with an expression on his face that showed he hadn’t eaten all day. From the looks of it, he was a kid from an impoverished background.  A tap on my back interrupted my observation of this hungry boy and I turned to see a swarm of young kids asking for money. I wanted to buy the hungry boy a banana milo, but I would have to buy the other crowds of children banana milos. Instead, my friends who were waiting for their banana milos decided that we should each rack up 25 cents and buy a milo for the hungry boy admiring the preparation of the banana milo. We bought the milo for the kid and handed the child the sumptuous treat as we left to get on a tuck-tuck. The boy’s face when we handed him the banano milo was priceless. His faced glowed and although we could not communicate with him, we understood his emotions by a simple nod and smile. One thing about food is that brings people together.

My friends and I were sharing this once in a lifetime experience which we wanted to share with a native of a land that we bombarded with our cameras and journalistic questions The little boy had something similar to experience with my friends and I in that we could taste the goodness of this simple sweet delicacy from Siem Reap.  That taste of the banana milo brought our differences to a similarity. As Cambodians say,” Same, same, but different!”  My friends, the little boy, and I are humans that love to delve ourselves into sweet indulgences even though we all have our different stories of how we all ended up at that banana milo stand in the Old Market of Siem Reap. The fact that I partook in a good deed made me enjoy the last bits of my banana milo and loudly said with the milo in my mouth, “yum, yum, yum, good Lord, yum!!” Unfortunately, my sweet moment was interrupted by a “honk, honk” coming from the tuck-tuck I was riding in  order to alert the people in the streets.

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