Three bananas were going bad on the counter so I decided to make banana bread. That’s what people do, or at least did when I was still at home.
These were Cavendish bananas as most commercially available ones are. They were also organic although I’m not sure how cultivation is different.
Like its predecessor, the Gros Michel banana, the Cavendish is susceptible to a fungus that could wipe out the variety. If that happens as expected, diets will change.
For a recipe I got out my copy of the Holy Family School PTA cookbook. I like this book for the familiar names of the recipe authors, some of whom I knew. Monsignor T.V. Lawlor served as the church’s second pastor from 1943 until 1961 and his photograph is printed inside the front cover of the book. This dates the cookbook in the 1950s most likely, after the school moved to the location I attended a couple of blocks south of the church on Fillmore Street.
I chose a banana bread recipe contributed by Mrs. H.A. Tholen. It called for shortening, although I substituted butter and kept everything else the same. Here are the ingredients as written:
1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup shortening, 2 eggs, 3 bananas mashed, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon soda, 1-3/4 cup flour, and a pinch of salt.
Instructions are, “Mix in the order given and bake in a slow oven.”
Well that won’t do. Looking at other sweet breads in the book I decided on a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. It turned out great as you can see in the image.
Making banana bread from overly ripe bananas is a cultural inheritance not only from my mother and maternal grandmother, but from a broader society where fruit like the Cavendish banana is readily and cheaply available. However, like most mass marketed fruit and vegetables it is subject to change from climate and from other pressures, forcing old habits and patterns to change.
There was something positive in yesterday’s bakery. It was a warning too, that life is fragile and ever changing. We seek comfort in what we know, delaying the embrace of what is coming. I don’t just mean what’s coming for Cavendish bananas.