Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Banana Coffee.

The extraordinary range of things that desperate coffee addicts will use to imitate their necessary beverage is testament to human creativity, that’s for sure. We have considered several of these in previous blog posts (here, here, here), and I was delighted to come across another one recently. At least, the phrase ‘banana coffee’ momentarily triggered that particular sort of excitement that only a new discovery can bring. An honest reading of the piece in Bananas; the golden treasure of the tropics (1905) however led me to reluctantly decide that the beverage described is more properly described as a coffee alternative, not a coffee substitute. But then, isn’t that true of all coffee ‘substitutes’?

The drink does sound quite delicious however – rather like a hot malted milkshake, perhaps? I wonder if anyone makes this product anymore? If you know, do please tell.

Many people have become convinced that they are harmed by the use of coffee, and have tried various substitutes for the berry of Arabia; There is no doubt that free use of coffee, particularly if milk or cream is added, does cause harm; but there is reason for the opinion that some, if not most, substitutes are even more injurious. Those who manufacture some such substitutes boldly assert that their productions are nutritious; but the highest authority in the land, the United States Department of Agriculture, says:

The average of five analyses of cereal coffee is: Water 6.2, protein 13.3, fat 3.4, carbohydrates 72.6, and ash 4.5 per cent. Only a portion of the nutrients, however, enter into the infusion.

The Department then shows that in the decoction there are 98.2 parts water, protein 0.2, carbohydrates 1.4, and ash 0.2 per cent, and that the total number of units of energy in a pound is only 30, which is so little as to be wholly unworthy of consideration. Some at least of such so-called cereal coffees are said to be made of damaged grain, of the refuse from brewers' vats, of bran and other like substances soaked with coffee extract or with chicory added. The worthless nature of such mixtures must be apparent to all.

There is cause for congratulation, therefore, in the fact that bananas of the proper states of maturity, properly mixed, dried and roasted, furnish material for a beverage which is palatable, perfectly harmless, and really nutritious. The whole may be taken as chocolate is used, and as the Turk takes his pulverized coffee, grounds and all. Many who now habitually use so-called banana coffee are firm in declaring that it is more palatable than genuine coffee can be, and has no bad effect. So far, the demand has constantly exceeded the supply.

There are very few recipes for using bananas in cooking which have any significant age, for the very practical reason that they do not transport well, and it took significant late nineteenth century technological developments to make it possible to get them to distant cooler climes in decent condition. Here in sunny Queensland, bananas thrive, and are an important crop. They are usually cheap all year round, but this year due to the devastation wreaked by cyclones and floods, they are unbelievably expensive. I doubt any of my local readers will be making the following pudding, although it does sound tempting as the cooler weather sets in and winter approaches. Note that the recipe appeared in a Temperance publication, which makes my dark side want to suggest adding a splash of sherry to the mix ..

Steamed Banana Pudding.
3 oz Butter or Margarine.
1 small cupful Sugar.
2 small cupfuls Flour.
¼ teaspoonful Salt.
2 Bananas.
Grated rind of 1 Lemon.
1 Egg.
About ¾ cupful of milk.
½ teaspoon Cream of Tartar.
¼ teaspoonful Bicarbonate of Soda.
Cream the butter and sugar, add salt and grated rind, the beaten egg, then the flour, tartar and soda, with the bananas cut in thick slices, and the milk. Put into a greased pudding basin, cover with greased paper, and steam for two hours. Serve with sweet or lemon sauce.
The Temperance Caterer. Nov 15, 1916

Quotation for the Day.

On a traffic light, green means go and yellow means yield, but on a banana it’s just the opposite. Green means hold on, yellow means go ahead, an red means where the hell did you get that banana at.
Mitch Hedberg.


Keith said...

Yes, almost $13.00 per kilo here!!! Will not buy at that price, ridiculous.

srhcb said...

I remember back in '69 when a hoax was foisted upon innocent hippies that smoking bananas would get you high. A singer/songwriter named Donovan even had a hit song named "Mellow Yellow".

Pete said...

Your dark side and mine. I would add not Sherry, however, but rum, just a dash, unless you mean sweet sherry.

The Old Foodie said...

at $13 a kilo, it is an expensive alternative! would love to try it though - I haven't seen it here in Oz, but then I haven't looked either.
Steve - thanks for reminding me about the hippy hoax and the song! I had completely forgotten it.
Pete - rum, of course, it needs rum, not sherry. I am going to try it as soon as the Queensland banana growers have recovered from the floods and cyclones, and bananas revert to being cheap.