Variations of ‘home’ set Cambodians apart from West

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My mother and I at home a few years ago.

Where I spent most of my life, there was the concept of going home.  That referred to where I went to bed at night.

Here, Cambodians usually mean the same thing.

Were I to head to my hometown, that would refer to the Boston, Massachusetts area, where I was born and lived the first 18 years of my life.

Here in Phnom Penh, “hometown” does not exactly exist as a concept.  Instead, Cambodians will say in their language they are going to their homeland.

“Homeland” is freighted with far more significance than “home” or “hometown.”  It has Continue reading

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Bruni and Carter: Separated at birth?

An engrossing excerpt from restaurant critic Frank Bruni’s forthcoming book, Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater, caught my eye in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Fascinated, I read the account of his youthful indulgence, which so closely paralleled mine – thankfully, only up to a point.  But here are some tidbits that resonated:

  • As a youngster, he would demand and devour two hamburgers at a time, wanting more.  For my school lunch, my mother had to pack two sandwiches.
  • Bruni remembers almost everything about his childhood in terms of food.  I am told that when I was 2 years old and my folks engaged in a rare indulgence in a lobster at a restaurant, guess who ate the whole thing?  Of that I don’t have a specific recollection, but ah, those BLTs in later years, the slices of processed cheese smeared with French’s yellow mustard, the fresh (rather than canned) vegetables that I urged my mother to try cooking, the apple pie I mastered at 15.
  • He recalls, as well, ice cream smothered with his mother’s homemade chocolate sauce.  Continue reading