Ode to a Banana

I don’t like bananas. It’s the taste and the texture combination that always makes me gag a little. Riper bananas are the worst if you are eating them fresh. But a green banana is really no good either, at that point it basically has no flavor at all. I eat them at the middle stage, bright yellow, fairly firm, subtle tropical flavor, minimum of squishy, mealy texture on which to barf.

But I also kind of love bananas, at least for qualities that don’t involve mouth experience. The banana is basically the perfect food for transport: it comes in its own protective wrapper, unlike with a citrus type fruit there is really never any challenge in the removal of the wrapper and if you happen to be in a situation where you need nourishment but can’t wash your hands, no problem you never have to touch the fruit directly. A banana is chock full of stuff to keep you functional pretty much all day: easily digestible but complex carbohydrates that don’t break down immediately, just enough sugar for quick energy, all manner of vitamins and minerals. They are short on protein but no one said you should live on bananas, they’re good for what they’re good for.

In the no carb craze bananas became a great evil in the food world. I mentioned that they have a lot of carbs. But now I think we have backed off that a bit and are remembering that carbs have their good place in the dieting world too. I mean, of course you shouldn’t eat an entire loaf of white bread at every meal but honestly the entire country of France pretty much wanders around all day munching on baguette and croissant and they are not a large size population.

So I travel a lot for work and Southwest airlines, my preferred airline because I do love the bus-style experience of slowly hopping across the country packed next to a stranger that I may have to touch (actually the flexibility of ticket changes, that’s the reason I love them) likes to get me started on my day of travel before the sun is up or even thinking about getting up. And I don’t like to eat in the morning anyway so breakfast at that hour no matter how long my day is going to be is not an option. But right about Las Vegas or Denver (one of the two most likely eastward flying stops) when I am standing at the local coffee purveyor (I mean local to the airport so Starbucks of course) I am also usually ready to eat something. But I am grumpy because I am tired and I have already been on one flight and I don’t like flying (the people, the touching, the waiting, the hurtling above the earth at crazy speeds) and I have to wait in lines with people who act like they are from this century but apparently are new to this whole air-o-plane thingy, and my stomach is not in the mood for breakfast burritos, muffins, glazed pastries, sausage biscuits, fried whatever or other as the case may be. So I say, “grande latte and a banana” because both are reliable and though I do not like the experience of the banana on the way down my traveling body seems to fair quite well on this lovely tropical herb in the transportable and hygienic package.

I slipped that in there at the end, the thing about the herb. Look it up, it’s true: the banana plant is technically a part of the family that encompasses herbs. I learned this at a botanical garden on Kauai not from the internet. Also mangos are related to poison ivy and oak, thus if you have a sensitivity to those plants you may have a mango issue. Same garden – it was pretty fabulous.

Maybe it’s not true what I said at the beginning, maybe I do like bananas. Perhaps what I should have said is ‘I never crave the flavor of a banana’ that’s true; I have never said to myself “wow, I’m really in the mood for a banana,’ but when I see them in their neat bunches in the basket of the coffee shop I am grateful. You can rely on a banana – it will always get you through. Well maybe.

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