Ingredient of the Week, July 22: Bananas
The true origin of Bananas is found in the region of Malaysia. By way of curious visitors, bananas traveled from there to India. In his campaign in India in 327 BCE, Alexander the Great relished his first taste of the banana, an usual fruit he saw growing on tall trees. He is even credited with bringing the banana from India to the Western world.
Eventually, this tropical fruit reached Madagascar, an island off the southeastern coast of Africa. Along with the thriving business in slave trading, the Arabs were successful in trading ivory along with abundant crops of bananas. By 1402 Portuguese sailors discovered them and populated the Canary lslands with their first banana plantations. It wasn't long before the banana became popular throughout the Caribbean as well as Central America. Arabian slave traders are credited with giving the banana its popular name. The bananas that were growing in Africa as well as Southeast Asia were not the eight-to-twelve-inch giants that have become familiar in the U.S. supermarkets today. They were small, about as long as a man's finger. Ergo the name banan, Arabic for finger. The Spaniards, who saw a similarity to the plane tree that grows in Spain, gave the plantain its Spanish name, platano.
It was almost three hundred and fifty years later that Americans tasted the first bananas to arrive in their country. Wrapped in tin foil, bananas were sold for 10 cents each at a celebration held in Pennsylvania in 1876 to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Instructions on how to eat a banana appeared in the Domestic Cyclopaedia of Practical Information and read as follows: "Bananas are eaten raw, either alone or cut in slices with sugar and cream, or wine and orange juice. They are also roasted, fried or boiled, and are made into fritters, preserves, and marmalades."
Note: The banana plant is not a tree. It is actually the world's largest herb!
Most kids love bananas. Do yours? do you? Do you mostly eat them out of hand, or do you use them in recipes? If so, what recipes do you use them in?
Please share your favorite recipes.