A harvest of red bananas landed in our kitchen this past week. Homegrown bananas are like homegrown tomatoes – you don’t know how good they are until you’ve had them. They taste better than the ones you’ll find in the grocery store… or at least different. These red ones are rich, tart fruits that almost taste like someone spritzed them with lime before serving them. We also grow Goldfingers (heavy, concentrated banana-ness) and sometimes get bunches of one or two varieties of plantains (thick, bready, “green”-tasting) as gifts.
Bananas grow almost everywhere it doesn’t snow and a few places it does (a little), and somehow they’ve managed to be shipped everywhere from Alaska to Perth. But nearly all of those are just one variety – the Cavendish. And those are all shipped green in giant refrigerators. (Yeah, the no-refrigerator rule is myth.) You might have heard the NPR interview with Dan Koeppel, whose new book about the history of bananas, Banana, is pretty interesting. Or, if you’d like to really get into the grim politics of non-homegrown bananas, then maybe take a look at Peter Chapman’s Bananas! (I haven’t read that one, but the exclamation point apparently makes all the difference.)