- Food and Cooking
Going Bananas for the Banana: Facts, Songs & Recipes
Going Bananas for the Banana
The banana is the most popular fresh fruit in the United States. Bananas may also be the silliest, sexiest, and most controversial fruit. According to science writer Dan Koeppel, it was the banana and not the apple that Eve bit into in the Garden of Eden. "Going Bananas for the Banana" is all about the banana. Here you will find banana facts, songs, recipes & more! We hope you enjoy it.
History of the Banana
Bananas are thought to have originated 4,000 years ago in Malaysia, and to have spread to the Philippines and India. The first record we have on them goes back to 327 B.C., when Alexander the Great found them growing when he conquered India. When his soldiers returned to Greece and Persia, they brought with them bulbs from the banana tree, which they planted.
In 63 B.C., Antonius Musa, physician of Octavius Augustus, is said to have cured his patient by using cold compresses made from the banana plant. Antonius Musa cured Caesar from his deathbed and he became a famous physician overnight. The banana plant group (genus) was named Musa after him.
In the year 1836, Jean Francois Poujot found and recorded this hybrid mutation growing in his banana tree plantation in Jamaica. He noted its sweet flavor and a yellow color, unlike the green and red varieties he was used to. Most of all, this hybrid was so sweet that it didn't require cooking. Jean Francois Poujot began cultivating this variety and the sweet banana was born.
Bananas were introduced in the United States at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, held to to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Bananas contain three natural sugars: sucrose, fructose, and glucose. They give an immediate boost of energy and are a good source of potassium and fiber. Today the banana is America's best selling fruit.
More About Bananas
The commonly called banana "tree" is not a tree at all but is the world's largest herb. This herb can grow up to 30 feet tall.
The trunk of the plant is actually made from naturally woven, closely
packed leaves. The plant grows rapidly and can reach its full height in about nine months time.
A flowering stem grows out of the leaves of the banana tree and a large reddish bud appears with double rows of flowers which are individually called fingers. These double rows have anywhere from 10 to 20 fingers. The fruit "fingers" grow in clumps which are in turn called hands. The stem will grow about 9 - 12 hands which circle the stalk, meaning that a single banana plant can yield up to 240 bananas!
Photograph Â© Steve F-E-Cameron
GNU Free Documentation License for Wikipedia
Banana plant showing flower and continuous production of
bananas. Photograph taken on Banana Island, Luxor, Egypt
http://www.commons.wikimedia.org by IFCP
Bananas come in Various Colors and Sizes.
The Karat Banana, a yellow orange variety, is commonly found in Micronesia and is one of the most carotenoid-rich bananas in the world.
Illustration of Karat Bananas
Ludwig Pfleger 1771.
Manuscript in the Badische Landesbibliothek
The Cavendish banana is the popular yellow banana we know in the U.S. and Canada. These are sweet bananas which are delicious peeled and eaten raw or cooked. Cavendish bananas should be purchased green and allowed to ripen at home at room temperature. They are at their peek when the peel is completely yellow and a few dark specks begin to appear. When they are over-ripe, the skin turns black and the inside becomes mushy.
Image from Clipart.com
The Plantain is a variety of banana found in tropical regions around the world. They are generally called "plantain" or "plantain banana" and are used for cooking, unlike the common yellow Cavendish banana that is usually considered more of a "dessert banana" because of its sweetness.
Plantains tend to be firmer and lower in sugar content than the yellow Cavendish, and are often stir fried or steamed. Plantains range from green to yellow. The green ones tend to be firmer and less sweet, making them perfect for cooking. They are ripe when the skin turns black. In many tropical parts of the world, plantains are a staple.
Image from Clipart.com
Red bananas are a variety of bananas with a reddish and sometimes purple skin. They are smaller than the common Cavendish banana found in the United States and in Canada. When ripe, the red banana has a flesh that is cream to light pink in color, and their texture is sweeter than that of the Cavendish banana. Red Bananas are found in Central America and Jamaica, and are also called Jamaican bananas.
Photograph Â© 2005 David Monniaux
GNU Free Documentation License for Wikipedia
Photograph taken at the Jardin des Parfums et des Epices
Saint-Philippe, RÃ©union Island.
The Bananita is a sweet banana found in Northern Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Colombia and in Hawaii. It resembles a short fat Cavendish banana, and is 3 to 4 inches long. These delicious, stubby bananas are also called apple bananas, manzana bananas, ladyfinger (or "ladyfinger) bananas and baby bananas. Sweeter than the common desert banana, the taste has been described as a cross between an apple and a sweet Cavendish banana.
The Blue Java Banana has a bluish color while developing, thus the name. It is also known as the Ice Cream Banana. It has a vanilla taste and goes great with ice cream!
The banana variety known as Pisang Seribu, which you see in the picture on the left, means "Thousand Fingers" in Malaysian. This banana plant can grow to heights 10 -12 feet tall, while the fruit stems that hold the bananas are often 6 feet tall!. It fruits so many bananas that people lose count after 500, which is why the Malaysians call it "Thousand Fingers." The fruits are small and sweet, and are highly prized as excellent desert bananas.
There are many more banana varieties, but this is a start. For those of you who are interested, you can find wonderful and rare banana images on Bananas.org., along with an active forum.
Flickr Photograph Â© by choyaw99
Overview of the Banana
Information, in part, from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia
"Banana is the common name for a type of fruit and also the herbaceous plants of the genus Musa which produce this commonly eaten fruit. They are native to the tropical region of Southeast Asia. Bananas are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. Today, they are cultivated throughout the tropics."
"Banana plants are of the family Musaceae. They are cultivated primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent for the production of fibre and as ornamental plants.
The Banana is Sexless
This sexy looking fruit has long been considered a phallic symbol but if truth be known, the popular banana is an asexual clone resulting from the act of vegetative reproduction.
"A single, sterile, male banana flower, also known as the banana heart is normally produced by each stem. The female flowers are produced further up the stem and produce the actual fruit without requiring fertilization. In cultivated varieties, the seeds have degenerated nearly to non-existence; their remnants are tiny black specks in the interior of the fruit. The ovary is inferior to the flower; because of their stiff stems and the positioning of the ovary and flower, bananas grow sticking up, not hanging down."
"Although the wild species have fruits with numerous large, hard seeds, virtually all culinary bananas have seedless fruits." Although this is great news for consumers, there is growing concern among farmers and scientists that the resulting lack of genetic variation will lead to very little resistance to disease and natural enemies of the banana.
Finding a way of introducing genetic variation is paramount. It is so important that scientists have founded an international consortium to sequence the banana genome.
Bananas Are Loved by People and Animals Alike!
Just Take a Look Below at Some Unusual Banana Fans Caught on Video!
The Monkey, Of Course, Loves His Banana! - Balinese Monkey Eating Banana While the Song Banana Man Plays in the Background
Here's a monkey enjoying a banana in the Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali to the tune of "Banana Man" by Tally Hall. The monkey instinctively peels the banana before eating it.
This Baby Elephant in Phuket, Thailand Loves Eating Bananas
Bunny Loves Her Banana - (Even Though Bunnies Aren't Supposed to Have Too Much Banana)
Do You Like Bananas?
Facts About the Banana
How Much Do You Actually Know About Bananas?
The commonly called banana "tree" is not a tree at all but is the world's largest herb. This herb can grow up to 20 - 40 feet tall.
The word 'banana' comes from the Arabic word banan, which means finger.
A cluster of bananas consists of 10-20 bananas and is known as a hand.
The banana is the only fruit that gets better when it is picked before it is ripe.
There are hundreds of varieties of bananas around the world but not all are edible. Some of the varieties found in markets include the Cavendish (most popular in the United States), the Burro, Blue Java, Dwarf, Manzano, and the Plantain.
Bananas come in different colors, including yellow, green, orange, red and furry pink.
There is a Museum dedicated to the banana in Washington State (USA) called the Washington Banana Museum.
United States immigrants were given bananas when they reached Ellis Island in New York. Many had never seen a banana before and didn't know they needed to peel them before eating. Many ate them whole.
In his new book, author Dan Koppel asserts that the banana - rather than the apple - was the true forbidden fruit that Eve took a bite out of in the Garden of Eden.
Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World - The Banana in the Garden of Eden!
Amazon.com Review: by Jean A. Railla
"More than just a food history, Banana transverses the globe, modern genetics, and past and present political struggles in a fast-paced narrative that reads more like a travelogue than a textbook. Koeppel is one of those rare authors that like Mark Kurlansky, can make any subject come alive. Rather than throw facts at the reader, Koeppel takes you by the hand and walks you through his tale. From genetic research labs in Belgium to plantations in the Philippines, to the creation of banana republics of Central America, to the banana--not the apple--as the most likely fruit in the biblical story of Adam and Eve, Koeppel weaves a rich story, where all these seemingly disconnected pieces come together. Bananas is a remarkable piece of journalism. Anyone interested in the politics and social history of food, or for those just bananas about bananas will appreciate it."
Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
Simple & Delicious
Banana Bread With Chocolate Chips
4 ripe bananas
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mash the bananas in a bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Bake in a buttered pan for 55 to 60 minutes.
Photograph © yoshimov
Brennan's Banana Foster From New Orleans
A Delicious and Dramatic Desert
Brennan's Bananas Foster
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup banana liqueur
4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise,
¼ cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambe pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.
Our thanks to Brennan's Restaurant, New Orleans
and Genius Kitchen for this delicious recipe.
Photograph © Bob Jagendorf
"Making Bananas Foster at Brennans"
What is Your Favorite Banana Dish? - If you have a favorite banana dish that is not listed, please let us know.
What is your favorite banana dish/food?
Banana Leaves in Cooking
Banana leaves are wonderful for cooking. These fresh cut green leaves add flavor to dishes cooked inside them and a number of Asian foods are cooked in this way.
They can be used for baking, steaming, or barbecuing foods, much like parchment paper, tin foil or cornhusks (corn husks). Banana leaves function as both a wrap and and they also give off a wonderful subtle sweetness to foods wrapped in them, plus they are fun and and they complement the presentation of the food.
They are fairly inexpensive to buy and can be purchased at most Asian supermarkets, either in the produce section or the freezer section.
The leaves are not eaten and can be composted when you're finished with them.
Other Uses of the Banana Plant
The fiber of the banana plant is used to make string or twine, and it can be woven into baskets and containers, place mats, carrying bags, and more. In Thailand during the sacred Festival of Lights - Loy Krathong - the Krathong* were originally made from a section of the banana trunk and decorated with intricately folded leaves, and a candle and coin were placed on it and floated on the river. When styrofoam became popular, the Thai people switched to using that, but since styrofoam is not biodegradable, there has been an active campaign to have people go back to using parts of the banana plant.
This plant is totally biodegradable and is important to soil regeneration. Because the banana plant absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide, it helps lower air pollution.
*the floating offerings
Judging from the following commercials, the banana must be the silliest and most fun fruit in existence. I hope you will take time to view a few of these videos. They are hilarious and a few of them are sure to evoke childhood memories. See for yourself!
The Original Chiquita Banana Commercial Inspired by Carmen Miranda, 1940s
This commercial, produced by Disney Studios in the 40's, only appeared only in movie theaters.
COIN GUITAR PICK PILLBOX
Carmen Miranda in "The Lady with the Tutti Frutti Hat," 1943 - A Busby Berkely Classic with Carmen Miranda - on Banana Island!
"The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat" is from the 1943 musical "The Gang's All Here".
The Carmen Miranda Collection
Spotlight: Bananas!: How The United Fruit Company Shaped the World - by Peter Chapman
Amazon.com Review: by Shawn Carkonen
"Smart Alliance concerns a most unlikely partnership between Chiquita Brands International (successor to the infamous United Fruit Company) and the Rainforest Alliance, a young environmental organization, and how they are transforming an industry. Their idea was simple in theory, yet revolutionary: adopt a "seal of approval" to certify fair treatment of workers and environmentally responsible farming practices as a way to win customers. Thus far, it has worked. Since agreeing to oversight by the Rainforest Alliance Chiquita has moved from bankruptcy to profitability and now the rest of the banana industry is paying attention. Though the relationship is still young and significant challenges remain, there is much evidence that this story may signal a permanent shift towards what was once an unfathomable concept: that a large corporation can be both profitable and socially responsible."
Bananaphone children's album released by Raffi in 1994. - This may be the catchiest banana song ever written.
Bananaphone is the name of a children's album and a song released by Raffi in 1994. Listen to this a couple of times and you'll be singing it all day!
Harry Belafonte with "Muppets Singing Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)," 1978
This video shows Harry Belafonte on "The Muppet Show" in 1978, singing Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) for the very first time. This one's a favorite.
"Day O" Sung By Harry Belafonte, Taj Mahal, Sarah Vaughan and Others - "Day O" ls also Known as the "Banana Boat Song"
Day-O, also known as The Banana Boat Song is a traditional Jamaican folk song, made famous by Harry Belafonte in the late 1950s. It was recorded by a number of people, some of which you will find here.
"Make Those Bodies Sing" - One of Australia's most famous classic commercials, 1964
This commercial hails from Australia. Thanks goes to SammySpam for pointing this one out.
Commercial for Dole Bananas - This Comes from Japan, 2008
One of the reasons for the success of this commercial is a new Japanese diet fad featuring....bananas!
The Banana Diet Has Taken Japan By Storm
The morning banana diet has swept across Japan to the extent that bananas usually are emptied from the shelves by noon. The reason for this is the new fad: the banana diet. The diet became popular last year after a famous Japanese actress lost 26 pounds on it. Nutritionists in America are skeptical about this diet, saying that it does add fiber and adding fruit is healthy, but they don't think you will lose weight on it. Nonetheless, in Japan the banana has gone from one of the cheapest and most readily available fruits to the fruit that is somewhat difficult to find (It's almost impossible to find a banana in Japan after 3 PM) and the fruit that is most in demand.
Calories in a Raw Banana According to Size
Extra Small (less than 6 in. long 81g
Small (6 in. to 6-7/8 in. long) 101g
Medium (7 in. to 7-7/8 in. long) 118g
Large (8 in. to 8-7/8 in. long) 136g
Extra Large (9 in. or longer) 152g
Note: This information is specifically about the yellow Cavendish banana.
Information courtesy of Calories In A Banana
Inportant Books About Bananas - From Amazon
"The Name Game" with Shirley Ellis - This song comes from the USA, recorded in 1965
"Shirley Shirley bo burley, Banana fana fo firley, Fe fi fo firley, SHIRLEY!"
The following information was taken from Wikipedia:
"The Name Game, or The Banana Song, is a children's singalong rhyming game that creates variations on a person's name. It was written by singer Shirley Ellis with Lincoln Chase, and Ellis' recording, produced by Charles Calello, was released in late 1964 (see 1964 in music) as The Name Game. That record went to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 4 on the magazine's R&B charts in 1965. The record was re-released in 1966 and again in 1973.
How to Play "The Name Game"
Information Complements of Wikipedia
Shirley Ellis said that the song was based on a game she played as a child.
"Using the name Jack as an example, the song follows this pattern:
:Jack, Jack, bo-back,
A verse can be created for any name, with X as the name and X?1 as the name without the first consonant sound (if it begins with a consonant), as follows:
:(X), (X), bo-b(X?1)
If the name starts with a vowel or vowel sound, the "b" "f" or "m" is inserted in front of the name.
And if the name starts with a b, f, or m, that sound simply is not repeated. (For example: Billy becomes "Billy Billy bo-illy"; Fred becomes "banana fana fo-red"; Marsha becomes "fee fi mo-arsha".)
Note: Playing the game with names such as Alice, Dallas, Tucker, Chuck, Buck, Huck, Bart, Art, Mitch, Rich, Richie, or Maggie results in profanity or rude language."
Tally Hall's Official Music Video for Banana Man
The Dancing Bananas
"The Dancing Banana is a popular emoticon. By late 2001, the banana was already being used on several forums as a standard emoticon. Most of these forums would replace the typed text "banana" with the graphical image. As the popularity of the banana grew, hundreds of variations of the image had been created for forums or other purposes. These new images typically would have to be either uploaded or linked to, instead of replacing text. The Dancing Banana soon made its way to television shows and began to appear as an icon in pop culture."
Information quoted from Wikipedia
Get Your Own Dancing Bananas
If you are interested in dancing bananas for your own website, also known as banana smilies and banana emoticons, you can find a large number of them HERE
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© 2009 Aquavel