Going bananas

Most of all the real popularity of this fruit comes from its humbleness.

Global warming and its grave consequences is indeed a Damocles’ Sword.  More floods, more storms and drought, scientists predict will plague us and our children.  We have been hearing all of this for a while now, that we are almost getting indifferent to its message. Yet, a report last week suggesting that climate change could soon give way to bananas replacing potatoes as staple food in some developing countries triggered a big, lively discussion on this wonderful crop in my home last week.

My spouse a banana lover was the first to give a long, lively discourse on the subject.  “The banana plant has the unique distinction of having every bit of its part put to some use or the other,” he said in a tone of a planter talking of his plantation.

Though I always get a kick in challenging his opinions this time I had to, grudgingly, admit he was right. The stem of the banana plant can be made into a delicious stew, the banana flower is palatable as a broth, raw bananas are an all-time favourite with chips lovers and from the ripe fruit some of the world’s most popular desserts are prepared.

From Banana Split, to banana pancakes and from banana pudding to banana fritters a skilled chef can go bananas with his imagination at turning out umpteen varieties of banana based desserts.  The leaves of the banana plant are used as serving plates and are a good substitute to ‘aluminium foil’ used to wrap and store cooked food.  

Soon, my daughter butted in. “I have seen two banana plants tied at the entrance of halls and homes where religious functions are held,” she recalled from her many visits to Chennai. In fact it is a South Indian custom to tie banana plants at the entrance as an indication that some sort of joyous and auspicious function is in progress in that specific place.

Most of all the real popularity of this fruit comes from its humbleness. Unlike apples and pears, mangoes and melons, kiwis and pomegranates, bananas come in bunches and is a poor man’s fruit. It is the least adulterated fruit in modern times requiring no polishing, colouring or preservatives. They are so soft that it is one fruit dentists safely recommend to their patients even after a front tooth extraction!

To this already versatile fruit the latest prediction of its dominance over potatoes is something we Indians, as the world’s largest producer with over 400 varieties of the fruit, should be proud of. For us Bangaloreans facing the worst garbage crisis, high pollution levels, rampant cutting of trees and erratic temperature variations, we finally have something to go bananas over climate change!  

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