Savory Cambodian Crepe
For as long as I can remember, I have had chronic allergies and difficulty breathing. As a child, I got sick often. As an adult, I still get sick often. Doctors could never identify the problem. I didn't have asthma. Allergy shots didn’t help. It wasn't a severe issue, just uncomfortable and inconvenient.
When I was 9 years old, my mother, my sisters, and I ran away from my abusive father. We left California and found ourselves in a tiny studio apartment in the suburbs of Boston. We made ourselves a home with hand me down furniture. I shared a full size bed with my mother, while my 2 sisters slept together in the bed next to us. Every time we ran away from my father and moved into a new place, I had issues breathing. My nose often bled. The air was always too dry. It was never quite right.
One night, I woke up complaining to my mother that I couldn't sleep because I couldn’t breathe. I may have also been sick. My mother led me out of bed and into the kitchen. I immediately resorted to what always soothed me when I couldn't breathe; I climbed onto a stool, stuck my head out of the kitchen window in the middle of a Boston winter. I distracted myself by watching my breath form clouds in the air as the snowflakes gently caressed my face. The cold air calmed me.
As my head hung out of our kitchen window, my mother pulled out leftover banh chao from dinner earlier that night. She assembled two plates of the savory crepe, mixed it with fresh vegetables and herbs, and smothered it with sweet Cambodian fish sauce. She summoned me over to our dining table. Together we sat in silence, side by side, eating banh chao with our hands. Both of my sisters slept soundly in the open room next to us.
My mother and I didn't speak. We just ate. In that dimly lit dining room, surrounded by darkness. In the middle of a cold, winter night. In that small studio apartment. Away from my father. And finally, I could breathe again.️ #love #cambodian #khmer #crepe #cooking #cookbook #passion #project #mama #mom