Bananas. Other than it’s a fun word to say, I have very little use for bananas in my world. They are one of a handful of fruits and veg that hold absolutely no interest for me — the others are peas and apricots if you are curious. It’s kind of a texture thing, it’s definitely a flavor thing. Unlike other fruits, bananas aren’t intense or quenching or crisply refreshing. They are solid, they are dependable, but not exactly delightful. There is nothing about them that makes me crave them.
If we were eating bananas in a banana growing region, I might feel differently, I would probably find a kind of banana that I dug — perhaps a piquant Burro, a blue Balongkaue, a tart Manzano, a sweet Ladyfinger, a creamy Valery, or a plump Igcpoca — but the vast majority of bananas sold in the U.S. are grown in a handful of Latin American countries and are one single varietal — the sturdy Cavendish. Like most commodity crops, the Cavendish was chosen for it’s uniformity and ability to travel well, not necessarily taste. Fun Fact: botanically bananas are technically an herb, not a fruit
These bananas know no season, they are grown year round, picked before they ripen, shipped, and then force ripened them before they are put on the shelves. I get that this durability and consistency is part of what makes them so popular, they are portable, they are filled with vitamins and nutrients, they are kid friendly. I just don’t particularly ever crave them. There was also once a Bananas Foster incident with an overly aggressive, possibly psychotic, Parisian waiter, but best not to talk about that. I eat them fairly rarely, usually when a middle of the night charley horse leaves me I’m feeling like I should perhaps have more potassium in my diet or I’m running super late and it was the only fruit left on the hotel breakfast buffet.
I think that I’m not alone in my disdain for this popular fruit, I think that I’m just the only one who puts this much thought into it. Nearly every family gathering or weekend or visit seems to include a bunch of bananas in the fruit bowl and not a single one of those gatherings has ever ended with the entire bunch being finished. Then the debate about when the bananas are too ripe to eat begins. Someone wants to ditch them because they are getting spots and then I get all Zero Waste Kitchen on my peeps and insist that no one throw them out because we could make muffins or banana bread or smoothies which I really have no intention of doing since I don’t really love bananas and then three days later they get thrown out anyway. But over Easter break, I broke the vicious banana cycle — the result was this coffee spiked banana bread, which fulfilled two of my kitchen goals — Zero Waste Kitchen and Everyday Baking. Three over ripe bananas got peeled and well mashed in a large mixing bowl before I added 1/3 cup of melted butter, 1 well beaten egg, and a generous splash of espresso. The coffee adds a slight bitter edge that cuts through the cloyingness of the Cavendish for me. I then stirred in 1 1/2 cups of flour, a heavy sprinkle of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of sugar (you could add more if that is your thing.) When everything was incorporated, the batter got poured into a nicely greased loaf pan and put in a 350°F oven for one hour.