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in bananas united
Bananas are a staple of many cuisines, and each culture has a different way of incorporating them into their diets. The most common for Americans is eating them plain as a snack. Somalis, on the other hand, commonly serve sliced bananas at lunch and dinner to be mixed into rice and/or pasta (You can thank Italian colonization for that one). In Mexico, they often serve bananas as a dessert; deep-fried with a side of chocolate sauce, or stuffed inside empanadas. Germans often enjoy them as a drink, bananenmilch, consisting of over-ripened bananas blended with milk and sugar.
What ties each culture to the beloved banana is also unique. One notable example is Germany's relationship with the now-ubiquitous yellow fruit: Seen as a sign of progression, East Germany increased imports in the 1950's and 60's. It quickly became a symbol of a new, working, and prosperous Germany, with mothers feeding their kids banana-rich meals. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Western Germany was finally able to take part in the German banana craze, and it was seen as a sign of victory.
food and cooking
In the United States, we eat the fruit raw, baked into breads, blended in a smoothie, or sliced into our breakfast cereals. We don't bother with the flowers, leaves, or the trunk, but many other countries who live where banana trees grow utilize the entire plant. For example, in South and Southeast Asia, the banana leaves are used as plates due to them being large, sturdy and waterproof. Leaves are also commonly used across many cuisines as a cooking vessel or wrap for grilling.
Nutritionally speaking, raw banana fruit consists mostly of water (75%), and carbohydrates (23%). They are a rich source of vitamin B6, and contain moderate amounts of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber. Interestingly, potassium content is commonly thought to be exceptionally high, but in reality, it's actually relatively low at only 8% of the US recommended daily value. If it's potassium you're after, choose raw spinach, baked potatoes, cooked soybeans, mushrooms, or tomatoes instead.
going bananas in Minnesota
Growing up in Minnesota, I loved to watch my mother bake banana bread. She didn't enjoy cooking as much as she did baking. I'd cook dinner [known as "supper" in MN] meals as soon as I could see over the counter, and she would do the baking. It took me a while to understand the methodologies of baking, and it didn't come as natural to me as cooking did: There were many failed attempts at cookies, but my mother's desserts always turned out, each and every time. After watching and learning, I eventually got better. >>>Thanks mum<<<
On weekends, as a small child, I'd sit on the countertop while she prepared her sweets. Her cookies, cakes and bars often decorated the kitchen, but banana bread was her specialty. She recently gave me the tried-and-true recipe, so I thought I'd try my hand at baking this afternoon. It's been a long time since I've tasted her famous morning treat, and thought I'd share it with you.
See bottom left side of the photo below, marked with a faint, penciled-in asterisk. It continues onto the next page at the top as well.
Feel free to share your own banana bread story below, and any thoughts/tips/tricks you have as you try this recipe for yourself.