Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fruit from God - Banana

Banana Fritters - Pisang Molen (Bandung)
Well, Maria Sharapova bit into her banana at every break during the French Open. I for one like to have one for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While overseas, having a hand of banana in my room would be nice. Each bunch will have about 10- 15 hands yielding 200 bananas. Banana is grown all over the tropics, from Australia to Bangladesh and is shipped around the world.

Eating bananas take different art forms in different cultures. Some peel just a third and start eating - working the peel downwards till the delectable fruit is completely devoured. Some peel till mid-point others till end before they start eating. We're used to peeling from top. However, some break it in 2 & peel. Some break/split the skin from the middle and peel sideways i.e. to the left and right thus exposing the banana for consumption.

There is one culture that is hospitable to a fault. They peel the bananas and handle it with their bare hands and place it on serving plate. Of course many find it objectionable.

The Thai infants have banana as their first solid food. Thais believe that they will grow strong with this initial diet. They will be fed until they reject it. My favourite local bananas are the local Pisang Mas', Berangans and Rastalis rather than the Montels, Cavendishes and Doles. It is packed with potassium and is an energy-boosting fruit!

Banana can also be baked and fried. We have caramelised and savoury chips. When fried in oil it makes a great snack. In fact it is one of the favourite snack in South East Asia. If you are in Bandung lookout for Pisang Mollen. My favourite is in the form of a Thai dessert. The bananas are sweetened and cooked with coconut milk and sago. Absolutely divine!

I consider the banana to be a really special food from God especially in the rural areas. It is hygienic, nutritious, easy to eat, readily available, and tasty. Perhaps a very important factor is hygiene. It did not need any preparation thus would not need to compromise its natural state. It can be eaten by removing the protective peel. No need to wash with water that may have been tainted. When I am travelling with group to the interior, I may buy a bunch. With a shelf life of at least three days and ready-to-eat familiar food, it promotes confidence when venturing into the unknown.

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