Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Any Banana With That?

Sorry folks, I just couldn’t resist continuing yesterday’s theme. A banana, at its simplest, needs no effort – it is already dessert in a skin, is it not? A fruit with a very short shelf-life however, as those of us who have half a freezer full of the super-soft, blackly over-ripe specimens know only too well. There are only so many banana muffins and banana cakes that one little household can consume.

Because of its spectacularly short shelf life, the banana was a great luxury outside of its natural habitat until modern methods of transport and climate-controlled environments enabled it to be delivered to the eager markets of the temperate parts of the world. Recipes for bananas really only start to appear regularly in cookbooks towards the end of the nineteenth century, and then they were mostly for sweet dishes. That is not to say that the idea of a savoury banana (no doubt based on the use of the related plantain) did not exist at all.

To help you use up the over-supply of bananas in your fruit bowl before they become muffin-material, I give you the following recipes for savoury dishes.

Steak with Bananas
Peel one banana and slice in round pieces, and while the steak is cooking fry them in a little hot butter until they are brown. After the meat is on the platter, lay these pieces over it, arranging them prettily, and put the parsley round as before.
Bananas are very nice with steak.
A Little Cookbook for a Little Girl. 1905

Bananas Fried in Egg and Crumbs: for a Savoury.
Sift the following mixture over the banana before coating with egg and crumbs and also before serving:
One teaspoonful of salt, ¼ teaspoonful of dry mustard, ¼ teaspoonful of pepper, a little cayenne, and 1 teaspoonful of red or brown crumbs [of what, the author does not say!]. Mix well together and shake over the bananas.
The banana its cultivation, distribution and commercial uses, William Fawcett 1921

Banana Savouries.
Banana savouries are not unusual. Here is an excellent one. Melt some butter in a fireproof dish and season it with salt and paprika. Cook for a few minutes, stirring well. Then lay in sufficient bananas split lengthways. Turn them several times so that the sauce works in, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs and grated cheese and a very little paprika. Add a few pieces of butter and bake in the oven.
Recipes for Small Households, The Times, Monday, Mar 20, 1939

Quotation for the Day…

Bananas are more like flowers, ... you can't mess around with them.
Richard Benson.


Peter Hertzmann said...

I think it's important here to differentiate between the Cavendish bananas available these days in North America and those that may have been around when the authors wrote these recipes. The Cavendish has only been our common banana since around 1950.

The Old Foodie said...

Good point Peter. Must look into that idea. Future blog fodder, perhaps?

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I do wonder how guests would react to the Steak and Banana dish, although I imagine it could be quite tasty.

rsynnott said...

Bananas with steak? Ugh. I wonder how many of these recipes were effective product placements by banana suppliers; this used to be a common advertising mechanism, and disclosure was not always good.

The poor old Cavendish's days are numbered too, it seems...

The Old Foodie said...

I am not averse to the idea of fruit with meat - prunes (or apple) with port, turkey with cranberries, chicken with grapes ... but the idea of banana with steak does not at all appleal. Except in the form of banana chutney, which does not count.