Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The shiza really is Bananas!

There are a lot more varieties of Bananas here in Brasil. Okay well first to clarify a misconception that many people have: it is NOT because there bananas originated in South America. Regardless of the “Banana Republic” and how much Chiquita Banana has tied bananas to the Americas—Bananas are not from the Americas.
There is still some debate but they appear to have come from East Asia and Oceania but shortly afterwards made their way to Africa where they thrived as well. But those bananas weren’t the sweet yellow bananas most of us are familiar with. Those were red and green and much like plantains in that they had to be cooked.

That yellow, sweet banana:
was a mutation actually, found by a Jamaican guy in 1837 who was on a banana farm and noticed that one tree was bearing some weird yellow fruit. It was super exciting because this banana could be eaten just like didn’t have to be cooked or anything. And then there was an explosion of this “exotic” fruit and now it is the fourth most cultivated food in the world.

These are some Bananas-da-terra (banana of the earth/dirt), which is that plantain I was talking about. These need to be cooked in some way to be good, kind of like a potato. Which is really interesting because in French patato is pomme-de-terre which is literally apple of the earth/dirt. So cool!

My mom likes to fry them like pictured above in butter or dendê oil. They're great just like that but sometimes she'll add them to a rice pilaf or cuzcuz one of my favourite things in the world. Or she will boil them with their peel and all and then cut them in half sometimes eat them on a cracker with light (pronounced lye-chee) cheese on them. They’re great like that too.

The other 4 most common in Brasil are the banana-prata (silver), banana-ouro (gold), the banana-maçã (apple), and banana-d’agua (water banana), the last one being the most familiar to United Statians.

This above is the closest to the one in the states I guess. But notice they’re smaller and stubbier looking. I think this is the either the banana-prata or one of the less common ones, but very common in my family. It is a very sweet banana but not sweet in a sugary way, in a fruity way. Also kind of small or short at least and it’s definitely gotten me into bananas again.
My mae likes to eat one after every meal (obviously with knife and fork). My host father likes to eat it with his beans, and my sisters like to cut it up and kind of mash powdered formula into it. They love that powdered baby formula. It does taste pretty good. I had to try it.

They also make this banana dessert once in a while with a water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and a couple of whole cloves:

This one is a different kind. I think it looks like a miniature plantain because of the shape. It’s not smooth but bulky, and it’s triangular but I couldn’t classify it under the more common ones either.

But you peel it and the banana is soo skinny. The banana surprised me. I guess it’s just the peel that’s really thick. Very deceiving. muahahah

Then I know for sure that this is the Banana Maçã (apple banana) [above]. This one is very small and sweet but it’s called the apple banana because it tastes a little like an apple. I don’t know about the history of this one though, I don’t know if it is cross bred or whatever. Does anyone know?


  1. Hi there--living in Belo Horizonte, and bought some bananas at the mercado for my kids today. My son opened it up and took a big bite and "ewww". I stumbled upon your website while looking for a way to cook the 6 remaining bananas. It might be my internet connection, but I can't see your pictures. Looking forward to reading the rest of your blog!

  2. Oh, I'm so glad you found this helpful! Yes they most likely were plantains (or banana-da-terra) that you got at the mercado, sometimes plantains in Brasil don't look as big and thick as they do in the states so they could be mistaken for the sweet ones that don't require cooking.

    I'm sorry you can't see the pictures :( I am such a visual person myself. But thanks so much for reading! I hope it continues to be helpful.
    How long have you been or will you be in Belo Horizonte?