Sunday, July 26, 2009

top -- and bottom --banana

For breakfast this morning, I am having cold cereal with a banana.

That is hardly a news flash. I have cold cereal with a banana almost every morning.

What makes today different is that I grew the banana. Or, more accurately, the banana grew on the property where I live.

On the west side of the house, in almost full shade, a banana tree has been growing as long as I have been here. When I arrived in April, it had already set its single stalk of bananas. And just like salmon, bananas get one shot at procreating.

And even then, scientists have played a trick on the poor banana tree because every banana tree is a sterile clone of her sister banana trees. Almost as if The X-Files had hired Chiquita Banana as a front.

So, my banana tree has been putting all she has into producing what she thought would be the next generation of bananas, but what will end up simply dressing up Special K each morning.

Marta took a look at the stalk and announced that the bananas were ready for harvest.

That surprised me because they are still green. But she gave me a piece to eat. And it was ripe. Maybe overly-ripe.

She started a mini-harvest. Several went upstairs for me. Even more went home with her.

I ate one yesterday afternoon.

I would like to say it was "the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful banana I've ever known in my life" -- or, at least, the best, freshest banana I have ever eaten.

But, it wasn't.

It was soft. Not very fragrant. Rather starchy. I could have bought the same Cavendish-cloned fruit at Safeway in Salem.

Maybe the fruit was on the stalk too long. Maybe the tree did not get enough sunlight. Maybe it is simply not a very tasty variety of banana.

But it does prove the old adage that just because it is home-grown does not mean that it is good.

Overall, it goes into the adventure category. I have never eaten a banana that I have had a hand in growing. I have now.

And as Chiquita Banana came to say: "Bananas have to ripen in a certain way."

Apparently, mine don't.


Calypso said...

Same thing here - Perhaps it is an acquired taste? We give the bananas that grow on our property to the neighbors - definitely not Chiquita's.

Anonymous said...

Your story was both educational and interesting. I had no idea that banana trees only produce one crop.

Keep up the good work of educating. Perhaps while reading your blog, I will get smart in my old age.


Laurie said...

Chiquita is the newer name for United Fruit Company that controlled vast lands south of Mexico. Bananas do produce more fruit if you cut it the shoots come up from the bottom and produce another bunch. Bananas are not trees, but a type of grass. That's why they have to produce new shoots to bloom.

Laurie said...

Scientists did not engineer the sterile banana plant. That's an ongoing problem for thousands of years.

Islagringo said...

I think I am one of the very few people in the world who can't abide even the smell of a banana. One of the hardest things for me during Army basic training was having to eat a banana a day. Yuk.

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- Everything I have read says that tree-ripened bananas are the best. It must be the variety.

Mom -- There are quite a few things you could teach us all. I should have you do a guest post.

1st Mate said...

Ugh, starchy is not good. We have fruit every morning and I want a banana for the potassium, but I wouldn't eat one by itself. Instead I hide it under the piña and mango.

glorv1 said...

We have about 7 or 8 banana trees on our property. They've yet to produce good fruit. Not as hot as it should be to grow bananas. One year, one of the trees did produce what looked like bananas, but we didn't get a chance to eat any because they were gone. We don't know what happened to them but they were gone. There are no monkeys on our property and we are all fenced in, so we never did figure out what happened to the bunch and the trees have never given fruit again. Have a week and regards to the big "J"

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Steve, ask Marta if those are machos instead of plátanos. The photo you have looks like machos, if so then they are plantains and need to be cooked. We have three types of bananas growing in our little grove. A "regular" banana (either Tabasco or Rotan), a plátano barbaro or manzanero which is a short fat banana with a hint of apple taste and machos, which are cooking bananas.

Steve Cotton said...

Laurie -- I knew they were not trees, and should have said so. But even the locals call them that in English. Gives "cut the grass" an entirely different meaning.

Islagringo -- It must be a Minnesota thing. I have an attorney friend from your great state who cannot stand bananas.

1st Mate -- I just picked up a bunch of the mini-bananas, and ate most of them on their own.

Gloria -- Have you thought the Wicked Witch may have sent her flying monkeys to your home? Just a thought.

Theresa -- They are not machos. The photograph makes them look bigger than they are. Each banana is no longer than my hand. And they are very fragile. By this afternoon, the five bananas Marta left for me were liquified in the fruit bowl. Literally. Just a pool of banana water and pulp. Are there such things as vampire banans?

Anonymous said...

Maybe banana trees (grass?) don't like salt water.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where there isn't a snow ball's chance in hell of ever growing bananas. Even with catastrophic global warming.

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- And here I was thinking you would work Brad Pitt into the banana tree.

Chrissy y Keith said...

I have Bananas here in Scottsdale. They are an herb. Once the stalk fruits, it dies. The sprouts that come up from the corm are called pups.