Top Ten Khmer Foods: #10 Noam Ban Chop, Namja Style

This kicks off a ten part series on my very favorite foods in Cambodia. Coming in at number ten on the list:

10) Noam Ban Chop, Namja style

True Khmer noodles come in three styles, defined by the broth — curry, keuv (blue), and namja (meaning unclear). The noodles are eaten at room temperature with an assortment of greens, dependent on the region, the season, and the establishment. My favorite is namja, the reddish brown coconut, shrimp, and peanut based broth, smothering fresh white rice noodles. Like all Khmer noodles, Namja is meant to be augmented by your personal addition of bean sprouts, leafy greens, chilis and a quick squeeze of lime from the communal tray. But the best part about Namja comes when you dig under the mound of sticky fresh noodles and come upon the secret treasure of cucumber slivers and round rings of thinly sliced elephant flower.

At a stall just outside of Phnom Penh. A bowl of noodles runs at $0.32 a pop.

Yum. This is actually keuv (or blue) style, but you get the picture.

October 14, 2008   1 Comment

Here we go!

March 29, 2008

So this is it, here we go.

I’m sitting on the plane on my way from Taipei to Phnom Penh. There’s about an hour to go until landing, and I’m feeling pretty well-rested, thanks to my trusty sleeping skills. I sometimes worry that my ability to sleep most anywhere, anytime verges on narcolepsy, but I can’t complain when the same ability allows me to sleep through a 14 hour flight.

I’m looking out the left side window near the front of the plane and can see a coastline, and the outlet of a river — perhaps the Mekong? We’re getting closer to landing and I’m getting a little more nervous — I still know so little about what to expect when I land; it’s scary, but also exhilarating to live so much in the moment, taking things one thing at a time.

Mum and dad dropped me off almost 20 hours ago at LAX. I have many friends and family to thank for their love and support in the past few weeks, but especially mum & dad for helping me get ready for this trip and being excited and proud for me to go off and try something a little off the wall.

After I woke up from my first mini-nap on the flight from LAX to Taipei, I started to panic a little:

“Wait, what?” I thought. “Where am I going? And why? I had a beautiful apartment in a city I love. I’m going away from a loving boyfriend, friends, family, and a well-paying job for what again? Am I running from something? Am I chasing a romantic notion, am I trying to prove something, and if so, what?”

I guess I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about what I’m going to be doing, why I’m going away at all, and why to Cambodia in particular. I’ve thought a lot about it, and written about it a little, and I guess if this is going to be the start to a log of my adventures over the next few months, it makes sense to talk a little bit about the impetus for the whole crazy thing.

Here’s a little snippet from my original Fulbright application:

My whole life, I’ve excelled at things that were relatively familiar and comfortable. Google opened my eyes to what’s possible when you push the envelope and translate big ideas to action. Psychologists have shown that people can become addicted to success, and risk less because they are afraid of failure. I don’t want that to be me. Just applying for this grant has already pushed me in ways I’m not accustomed to – reaching out to strangers, independent study outside of a formal academic setting – and it’s not difficult to imagine how much more I would grow in 10 months.

As most of you know, I didn’t convince the Fulbright folks, but even so, I think this was the most sincere part of my application and the fundamental reason why I’m on this plane.

I could go on and on about my particular selfish reasons, but staying true to my nature, I’ll just write a couple down in a little list

– Want to do something I care about (e.g. education)
– General travelust — particularly, liking the feeling of being a foreigner in a place and the exhilaration (and exhaustedness) of learning everything over
– Want to test my boundaries; can I do this on my own?
– Find out what’s really important to me — what do I need to live? In the end, not much I think
– Like the idea of being somewhere where my skills and experience and time are relatively much more valuable
– Want to get a little closer to understanding what life can be like in a “so-called” developing country and try to understand more about this morass that is development
– Want time to think and not just be busy busy busy, without a real goal in mind
– Though it can be lonely, I like “starting over” in a place with no expectations of what kind of person I am, what I should do, who I should be

March 28, 2008   No Comments

To-Do Before I’m 25 (as of 1/13/08)

February 1, 2008   No Comments

Jaime’s New Year’s Resolutions for Jess

This weekend, Jaime and I each wrote up New Years Resolutions for each other on index cards. Here were some of his for me… a bit tactical, I thought, but very sweet.

I’d also be interested to hear what his more aspirational resolutions would be for me — what does he think I could do to be happier, better, more me, more satisfied, more serene this year?

February 1, 2008   No Comments

Things I want to spend time on in Cambodia

– motorcycling
– sewing/ clothing design
– guitar
– language
– yoga/meditation
– writing (book, poetry, short stories, letters, daily journal)
– cooking
– dancing
– other travel
– photography
– reading/research
– grad school Apps

And for more:
– spirituality
– finding my FOCUS
– hanging out with kids

February 1, 2008   No Comments

Food resolutions from Michael Pollan

1) Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
2) Avoid foods containing ingredients you can’t pronounce.
3) Dont eat anything that won’t eventually rot. [Tootsie rolls! The shame...]
4) Avoid food products that carry health claims.
5) Shop the peripheries of the supermarket; stay out of the middle.
6) Better yet, buy food somewhere else: the farmer’s market or CSA.
7) Pay more, eat less.
8) Eat food a wide diversity of species.
9) Eat food from animals that eat grass.
10) Cook and, if you can, grow some of your own food.
11) Eat meals and eat them only at tables.
12) Eat deliberately, with other people whenever possible, and always with pleasure.

January 7, 2008   No Comments

Week One in the new apartment.

So this has been an eventful couple of weeks full of many firsts:

– Moving into my own apartment
– Selling something on Craigslist
– Cliff House at 6 in the morning to watch the waves
– Finding the fuse box and turning the lights back on
– Unclogging a toilet
– Tegan & Sara concert at Zellerbach Hall
– “Fondue” by candlelight
– Early morning run by Dolores Park

And just plain fun stuff:

– Perfect green tea & finding my keys at the Irish pub
– Dinner at Bissap Baobob & crazy dance party at Bruno’s
– Coffee & shopping with Sara in the Haight
– Gabriela, Clove & Cinnamon
– Apartment decorating spree: Pier One, Target, the Container Store…
– Olafur Eliasson exhibit

Things that I’m happy thinking about:

– **Buying the ticket to Cambodia**
– Building my apartment platform
– Finding/taking motorcycle lessons
– Picking up more library books from on-hold
– Buying fun Christmas presents
– Organizing my closet
– Getting a coffee pot

December 17, 2007   No Comments

Guess I’m behind already

Any new firsts in the last few days?

All pretty lame and small. I need to be a little more conscious about this project if I’m actually going to get anything out of it.

— apple brined a turkey
— asked someone to coffee that I was afraid to ask
— read The Dogs of Babel

November 23, 2007   No Comments

Up at 1AM on Monday night

Things, they are a changin’.

I really should not be up this late, and yet here I am. I got a lot of good stuff done today.

For the rest of this year (41 days to be exact), I will do one new, exciting “first” each day. Here’s a start from today in chronological order:

— Round I of the HPV vaccine
— Bought myself a really really nice digicam
— May have found an apartment!
— Attending a kickboxing class at work
— Wrote a blogpost in this blog

I have so much energy, and I’m so sleepy at the same time. Can’t wait for turkey-day and for the chance to dump out everything that’s on my mind into some to-do lists.

November 20, 2007   No Comments