Brightly colored, easy to peel and eat, the banana is a great addition to a bowl of cold cereal; an excellent source of potassium; and an indispensable ingredient of Bananas Foster, one of the great Obscene Desserts of the Western World.
The Missus and I, like so many Americans, like to buy our bananas slightly green. This betokens a certain optimism. People who buy green bananas assume that they will still be walking the planet when the bananas ripen and are ready to eat.
Within a few days, our bananas have turned a golden yellow. To us, in the World o’ Bananas, yellow means “go.” That’s from an old Mitch Hedberg routine: “With bananas, green means ‘stop,’ and yellow means ‘go.’ And red means ‘where the fuck did you get that banana?’”
In Latin America, folks like to wait until bananas are farther down the Ripeness Path. From golden yellow, the next stop is a peel speckled with brown, then onward to a mostly brown peel. To us, bananas with a brown peel are too far gone to be eaten out of hand; to your average Costa Rican, they’re just beginning to look edible. [Plantains, a starchy variety of banana usually eaten cooked, need to ripen past the “black peel” stage, whereupon they become tasty platanos maduros. But that’s another story.]
We had a few bananas that, through inattention or laziness, we had neglected to eat while they were golden yellow - or even lightly speckled. Fact is, they were beginning to liquefy, filling the kitchen with an intense banana aroma. Time to make...Banana Bread!
Banana Nut Bread
¼ cup butter (½ stick)
¾ cup sugar
3 large ripe bananas
½ cup pecans, broken or chopped
1 egg, large or extra large
2 tbsp lemon juice
1½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Grease a loaf pan with butter; set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat the egg and add it to the creamed butter and sugar, along with the lemon juice and the three bananas (peeled and well mashed).
Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the nuts.
Turn the mixture out into the loaf pan and bake for approximately one hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack; allow to cool.
I made this last night, omitting the nuts to accommodate SWMBO, who still is on the “No-Chew” meal plan. The alternative would’ve been to 86 the bananas. This was better.
Banana Bread is yummy as is, or you can slice it, toast it, and butter it for a Calorific Treat. But if you really want to be decadent, do as SWMBO did this morning. Inspired by the Sunday brunch at Savannah’s Firefly Café, she made Banana Bread French Toast.
Just take a couple of slices of banana bread, soak ’em in a mixture of beaten egg and milk, and fry ’em in butter. At the Firefly, they serve a pitcher of warm Crème Anglaise alongside the BBFT...but to me, that’s gilding the lily.
Washed down with a couple of mugs of hot, steaming java, this was the kind of breakfast that puts a spring in my step, a smile on my lips, and a deranged glint in my eye. O, noble Banana – how tasty thou art!