The Exotic of Banana
In non-banana growing countries like the west, or non-tropical countries in the northern hemisphere of Asia, the banana is an imported food item consisting of only one type. The green banana. Known are here in Indonesia as 'pisang ambon' or 'pisang ijo' depending on the fruit's skin color, this type of banana is a very common type in the sprawling family tree of the fruit. The fruit is a familiar sight in local markets, also along the mountain road sile leading into West Java's highlands, the Puncak Area. Here, we find bananas of every kind, not only the green banana type which is the most popular for its high nutritional quality.
The pale lemon, or , the green velvety skin hides a rich inner core of creamy colored banana flesh which is quite sweet againts the palate when ripe. Because of the type's rich contents, the regular green banana has many uses in this country. It is a very adequate alternative for people who are put on a health diet doing away with floury foodstuff.
Babies, after reaching the 5th are in for a diet addition of milk and mash bananas. The banana has for a long been supplemental diet for babies who are still being fed the traditional way. Newer baby diets many have supplanted mash banana or apple mash, or, even other fruit never thought of as baby food.
The banana has developed other nutritional connotations. From young fruit sweet and salty chips are now a mass production which have grown into a popular consumptive item in the local market.
But apart from the green banana there are uncountable variants known only to farmers. Billed as exotic fruit once by an American writer in the highly culturally Smithsonian magazine, these lesser known bananas have been making inroads in American and Japanese food markets since mid 80's.
One of the exotic banana varieties here is called 'royal banan' is sweet and flourly. Unlike the green banana, this type os of a dry and flourly consistency.
Another banana type quite popular among locals, and also coming in the exotic famil range, s the 'milk banana' or 'pisang susu', in the local lingo. Also the fleshy variety, this fruit has a yellow mottled skin much thinner than that of the 'royal' and 'green banana'. The milk banana has to be fully ripe before it is fit for consumption, otherwise, it only would not to be sweet, but, also would leave acid like flavor on the tongue. These banana types are never used as an alternative diet like the green banana. Other banana types are only used in local sweets, or as a base ingredient for fritters. Notable in this case is the giant 'horn banana' (pisang tanduk) whose flesh is of a sourish quality. Because of that it lends it self quite well for a local sweet dish called 'kolak' or 'pisang goreng', the universally known banana fritter.
Next to the giant bananas, there are miniscule bananas carrying such names as 'golden bananas' (pisang mas) and the beetle banana (pisang pinang). Both are unbelievable sweet. The only disadvantage is apparently only in the middle size of the fruits. If with the regular banana fype one fruit would suffice, dwarf bananas hace to be consumed by the comb per person. The bananas are at the times so small that one seasily swallowed in once bite. Other than that, these bananas become easily the best in flavor of the lot available the country.
The opposite flavor of these small sweet bananas can be found in a rare type which appear to grow only of North Sulawesian soil. There known as 'pisang goroho' this banana variety remains bottle green, even when ripe. In the region it has become an alternative for rice with people put on a riceless diet. The fruit is preferably consumed in the unripe stage with it is cut up in the rounds and used as a basic ingredient in a local sweet which mixes the cooked banana slices with grated young coconut and molted brown sugar. When it is used as a replacement for rice, the cooked slices are eaten with side dishes.
North Sulawesi's flora and fauna is known to be of the different nature compared with islands south of the equator. This almost impalatable dwarf banana refused to bear fruit when it was brought here by a visitor for her garden. Of five young trees, thress sucumbed after a time for non apparent reason. Two banana trees reached maturity, looking very healthy and fat but refused to bear fruit.
Indonesia shares the banana with other countries. Not too far from home there is the Philippines where the green banana has become an export comodity for the country. Other countries with excessive banana cultivation are Latin American countries like Brazil and its neighbours.