Thursday, April 01, 2010


I don't like bananas. Go on . .call me 'bananas' you know you want to. Probably some truth in it.

I'm quite partial to a piece of toasted banana bread with lashings of butter or even a green banana barbecued with a nice steak but . . I just don't like bananas on their own in their perfectly packaged, well wrapped mellow yellowness, in or out of pyjamas.

My father was a war child. During the entire second world war he was a tween and a teen only to enlist in 1945 when the whole shebang was over. His experiences in Manchester were told and retold under the influence of Dr Jamieson, Dr Bells or even Dr Dimple if it was on special.

He often regailed us with tales of being a child during what was affectionately referred to as the blitz. Coming out of bomb shelters to find their house intact and the neighbour's gone. Collecting shrapnel for 'show and tell' at school. Being dragged out of bed at night to be taken to safety while the Germans did their best. Lack of fresh food, school closing due to a strike. Even my mother remembered making a dance dress out of blackout curtains and was severely chastised for leaving the upstairs window so exposed.

One of Dad's big claims when we complained about having to eat fruit as teenagers in sunny Australia (invariably Bananas because my mother used to swear 'there's a meal in every banana and force them into us even if they were a bit brownbespeckled and 'floury' because they're a wonderful source of fibre and potassium) was that he didn't eat a banana for 10 years. We should be grateful that this creamy goodness that reminds me entirely of making esters in Chemistry class, was freely available, cheap and nutritious.

As children we thought this a strange complaint, I mean who would miss bananas?

As I studied high school and university wartime history from a number of perspectives, I realised the magnitude of war time shortage and rationing and the scarcity of fresh food. I began to understand that this humble fruit shunned by me was indeed something exotic 50 odd years ago, especially to a boy living in Manchester's industrial heartland.

Not forgetting my father's frequent lament, we road tripped to Queensland one year, as you do. Travelling along the Pacific highway takes you first through freeways and nondescript countryside, further north into staggering eucalyptus forests, further north banana country before hitting sugar country. Acres and acres of the bloody things. A stop at the "Big Banana" in Coffs Harbour is simply mandatory on any road trip north.

So, cogniscent of my Da's lament, I bought him some bananas. Not one, not two, but an entire hand.

They were green on purchase but yellow and perfect by the time we arrived home. Which meant he had to eat the lot . . and quick before they spoiled. He appreciated the joke if not the quantity . .I didn't hear him complain about never having a banana ever again. And I've never taken such an amazing fruit for granted. It's sweet really. The memory not the fruit although the fruit is sweet but you know what I mean.

I never visit his grave but something as simple and yellow and bendy and peely and nutritiously yielding as a banana brings back wonderful memories of my Dad, every time I shop.

Pop along to the other Theme Thursday contributors and see what goodness they've embraced with 'Yellow'



otin said...

That was a very nice post, Baino. It is funny how certain things can conjure up memories of people and make you remember important things. For me it is black olives. I always think about my grandfather picking at a bowl of black olives.

I love bananas, by the way!

Bimbimbie said...

Tsup*!* Haha I bet his face was priceless when you presented him with his bananas.

tony said...

I Agree With You About Bananas! They suck Literally!

i beati said...

daylight comin and I wanna go home - sultry Harry

A parent gave me this treat this summer which I love
vanilla yogurt ice cream sliced bananas covered with carmael sauce - YUMMO

Brian Miller said...

beautiful post baino...funny how the little things like that conjure up the best memories...keep stirring them.

happy tt!

nick said...

I love bananas, I always eat two or three a day. How could anyone not like them? Very glad I wasn't alive during the war and deprived of them. The only food I remember my father enthusing about was chocolate biscuits. He couldn't get enough of them. I've inherited his passion.

Leah said...

I really enjoyed reading this reminiscence of your dad. It's lovely to have a simple everyday sort of thing that can bring back a rush of sweet memories for you.

Roy said...

Ah! I so love bananas! But then again, nobody forced me to eat them when I was a kid, either; they were seen as a treat rather than as a staple. And chocolate goes so very well with bananas!

Great post, Baino!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

interesting post and wonderful take on TT.

i love bananas.

i have recently adopted the practice of eating a banana (or two) a day to keep my blood pressure at bay!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

p.s. perfect accompanying song - fonzi bear and harry!

laughingwolf said...

my kenny and i go through our morning banana ritual... he used to eat bits only, but now wants more than half, preferably on the green side :O lol

Janice said...

What a lovely memory of your dad. Funny how the strangest things can spark a great recollection. And Harry Belafonte, oh my. I saw him perform in Berkeley in the 60s, and he sang this song. Amazing.

Ces said...

Aaaw! There you go bananas. It's great that simple things remind you of special people. As for bananas, the plantains in your photograph is my favorite. It is best fried and caramelized but I also use it in soups. I really do not care for the beautiful bananas in the store that are harvested unripe, shipped and then gassed to make make the ripe yellow color perfect. They are bland. The bananas I grew up with did not have the perfect yellow peel.

Susan at Stony River said...

What a great memory of you & your Dad! I enjoyed this a lot.

Anonymous said...

Bananas Baino were always promoted to us as the prefect food, so were eggs and cheese and anything else that was put before us!
We had them for breakfast, dinner and desert and in sandwiches in between times. Still do if less so these days. They are rather good. I miss the straight ones though, remember the Chiquita banana company? They were put out of business by a hurricane. Never recovered. Bananas are still quite expensive here in Ireland so I don't have them as often as I used to.
Good food and me always got along but I never could put on weight because of it.

Tom said...

yum...but i am the opposite of you, i don't care for anything banana flavored...just give me the real banana. Of course i always have to share a bite with Toby. He's mad for bananas!

Poetikat said...

I love bananas! We have them as a base in a smoothie every day.

The Belafonte clip is one of my all-time favourites, along with Danny Kaye on the same show, singing "Inchworm".

Baino said...

Is a bit strange Otin but I'd rather remember him retelling 'war' stories and laughing in the garden with a scotch in hand than visiting a little marble plate. It's these little anecdotes that keep him alive for me.

He was a bit shocked Bimbimbie but we all had a chuckle over it and he ate every one!

Haha . . natures wonderfood Tony, I wish I did like them. I work with a guy who has a banana sandwich EVERY day.

Well at least you're getting a 'meal' covered in caramel Beati! Plenty of potassium in there.

Yeh got a load of them Brian, just need to shake up the brain a bit and remember them all.

Sweet tooth much Nick? They're a must eat food for a vegetarian I'm told. My mother could never eat eggs. She could eat things made with eggs such as cake or quiche but put a plate of scrambled eggs in front of her and she'd gag due to having to eat powdered eggs during the war. Then some things remained 'comfort food' oddly enough Spam amongst them!

Tis Leah. He was a great guy and we did spend a lot of time talking on the Verandah so I'll drag out a few others when I have time.

Well we weren't forced I guess Roy, just 'strongly' encouraged. They're available all year here and cheap so I guess it makes sense that people always have them in their fruit bowl.

Yep that'll do it. Although I know someone who actually had a potassium overload eating bananas on top of their blood pressure medication.

A dog likes bananas? Wuffa that's bananas!

He doesn't seem to age does he Jan? I haven't a clue what else he ever sang but this one will be 'his' forever!

Ces I really like them green and barbecued although I haven't done them that way for a long time. We can buy both naturally ripened and gassed but I agree with you, the flavour isn't as good with the gassed stuff. Only problem here is they ripen too quickly in the heat. Banana soup?

Thanks Suze. Friday now and I'm catching up with yours as well.

Unstranger, you are blessed if you never put on weight eating good food. I just have to look at a biscuit and I gain kilos! We had a hurricane up north a couple of years ago that destroyed a lot of banana crops and they did become expensive for a while but being a fast growing tropical fruit, it didn't take long for them to recover. We export loads of the things. I don't think I've ever seen a 'straight' banana . Plantain maybe, we call them LadyFinger Bananas?

Never thought about sharing bananas with dogs!

Kat I'd forgotten about smoothies, yep, I enjoy a banana smoothie. Haven't had one for a while but good breakfast fodder!

Barbara said...

Thanks for the Harry Belafonte bit. It brought back memories of getting his autograph after a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in the early 60's (or maybe late 50's) He was my favorite at the time and it almost made me faint. I miss him. So interesting about the bananas. I don't like them either, but I think it might be the way they're grown now, as Ces said

Ronda Laveen said...

You bought him an entire hand? I'll bet he got the runs but still loved the gesture.

I'll have to check and see if my dog likes bananas.I know he likes mushrooms. They're his diet treat.

Gladys said...

What a sweet memory. I loved that you bought him a bunch :)

laughingwolf said...

lol... i told the vet a long time ago and he said it was ok... kenny likes raw apple bits, too... even tried some orange, and liked that as well

Mim said...

My dad LOVED banana's - I think he had a banana tree in Sicily. He would make us a dish when we were kids that was awesome. Ripe banana (but not too ripe), smothered in sour cream and sugar. HEAVEN. I make it now with yogurt to try to make it a bit healthier.

I love banana's now and every time I eat one I think of my dad and mentally toast him with the peel.

CatLadyLarew said...

Great Theme Thursday post, Baino! What a great way to surprise your dad... wonderful memory for you. Loved the Harry Belafonte/Muppet clip too! I had an electical banana in my TT post.

California Girl said...

I like bananas the day after the green goes away; beyond that, not much.

The grilled bananas w/ steak sound good. Do you coat them w/ anything?

Ocean Girl said...

Somehow I am surprised you do not like bananas.

Nice post of memories of your Dad. Simple and sweet. Like a banana:)

jay said...

What a lovely post! I'd love to have seen his face when you handed (ha!) over the bananas! That must've been so funny!

Yeah, apparently lots of dogs like bananas, but none of mine ever have. The Princess used to like a bit of pear now and then, and loved to shell peas, but no bananas.

Loved the clip, too! Can't beat the Muppets!

Carolina said...

A wonderful post Baino.

(I don't like bananas either. I can manage one bite, perhaps two, but more banana always makes me think I have to puke.
Your bananabread recipe however sounds mouthwateringly lovely. Not that I'm familiar with bananabread. But still I can imagene it tastes really good.

Did you know most horses love bananas?)

Darlene said...

I am 'bananas' over bananas. I have one every day for the potassium. It keeps me from having cramps in my legs.

I love Harry Belafonte more than bananas. He is eye candy and I love his mellow voice.

Gledwood said...

Happy eggster!

Careful of those bananas... yer might get funnel webs hiding in them hands!!

PattiKen said...

This is such an interesting post. Hearing tales of "the blitz" from someone who was there... amazing.

Hope you didn't present him with a big fat old tarantula with the bananas...

Mine is here.

Grannymar said...

I like firm bananas sometimes for lunch I spread Nutella on bread and add mashed bananas. yummy!

Jill said...

What a lovely post and tribute to your father.

Me, I love a banana but am particular about WHEN I am going to eat it...if it is the least bit "brownbespeckled and 'floury'" FORGET IT!!!!

Happy Easter to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter Baino! I'm not that keen on bananas these days either- they don't taste like they used to!

lettuce said...

lovely story and memory Baino.
My stories of childhood in the blitz came more from my mum than my dad (who was [unhappily] evacuated) and I remember her too talking about this

Tina said...

This is one of the nicest 'yellow' posts I've seen. My mother told me stories of growing up in the war too. Her mother build them bicycles from scrap!

I don't like bananas very much, but I love banana flavoured things. Odd.

The Clean White Page

Vagabonde said...

Another great post, Baino. I like bananas and was very surprised when, in a market in Libreville, Gabon (west Africa) I saw that they had different kinds of bananas that I had never seen – small ones, extra sweet ones etc. I liked the little plump one, and they were almost red. Here in the South, banana pudding is a classic dessert.

Ropi said...

I had some hacking problem maybe with my blog so I restarted with a new one. The old one became totally messed up.

Anonymous said...

With my maternal grandfather it's always prunes. he used to sing a little song which began: "No matter how young a prune ma be, he's always full of wrinkles.
"You may get them on your face. Prunes get them every place..."
Prunes and brussel sprouts - though I can't quite remember why with the sprouts.

Alan Burnett said...

You are becoming a master of these heart-rending pieces - I love this one. It's a perfect response to the theme.

kj said...

40 comments? my god, where have i been?

i lukewarm like bananas. they are okay on top of oatmeal and i like them fried. but they are not high on my list.

the story about your Dad is great. those kinds of memories take root in the heart and stay there forever.

i can HEAR you telling this story, hells. i'm so glad i know what you sound like.

tsup tsup to my bannana mush all time good friend.

Kate said...

I don't like bananas and bananas don't like me - they make my mouth sore!!! But I did like your post!!!