Friday, July 25, 2008

Bananas - Guam's Zucchinis

What the zucchini is to the PNW, the banana is to Guam. In the Pacific Northwest of the United states, and on the coast of British Columbia Canada, zucchinis grow to incredible sizes. This hardy squash grows quickly and abundantly in the temperate "rain forest" of this area. A single zucchini can grow to be 3 times bigger than a football. Jokes abound in the PNW that you don't dare leave you car unlocked while at church or other social functions, for fear that you will return and find several giant zucchini squashes sitting in your back seat. People will go to any extreme to rid themselves of their abundant crop. The zucchini features in many culinary dishes in the PNW - main dishes like spaghetti, get a boost of vitamins from cubed zucchini. Freezers are overflowing with shredded bags of zucchini waiting to be made into breads, muffins, and even zucchini pie (similar to pumpkin, but with a greenish tinge). Fried zucchini, boiled zucchini, baked name it the inventive housewife has tried it.

In a way I miss zucchinis. The wee little ones I find in the grocery stores of Guam just don't quite do the vegetable justice. So what to do? Find a substitute that grows in as great abundance. And that is the banana. While surveying my yard this afternoon, I counted no less than 10 bunches of bananas in various stages of readiness. Small, sweet eating bananas - never hard to get rid of as the little ones will eat them almost as fast as they ripen. The bigger "ice cream" bananas, too get eaten swiftly - as along as the family has not been "banana-ed" out. In which case, peeled and bagged in zip lock baggies, these end up in the freezer to be used in smoothies and baked dishes. The larger "cooking" bananas....they tend to be given away to the first person who knocks on my door asking for bananas. Typically a Micronesian family from Chuuk will be the lucky recipients of our over abundance.

Still, I hate to see all this great food go to waste when we can't quite eat all the bananas that have a tendency to ripen all at once. What I need are some good banana recipes. Unlike the zucchini which seems to have no trouble being served as vegetable or a fruit, the banana is all fruit in my opinion. Bananas in your spaghetti? I think not. Bananas in your soup? I think I'll pass. So what to do with all those bananas?

Banana lumpias are a tasty treat, but obviously not too healthy. Whole bananas are wrapped in thin egg roll wraps, and then deep fried in hot fat until golden and crispy. Many locals like to then sprinkle on sugar or roll them in cinnamon/sugar mixture while hot so that the sugar forms a sticky glaze on the treats. Delicious, but not so good eaten as leftovers.

Baked bananas are delicious too. And then there are all the banana breads, muffins and cakes one can think of - similar to zucchini a banana is a great filler for these.

Some day I may figure out just how to use a banana as a vegetable and serve it with my steak and salad, but for now I think I'll just keep advertising.....want bananas? Here they are!

1 comment:

Donna said...

I wonder if you could use slighlty under ripe bananas the way Jamaicans use Plaintains. I really have no idea what I am talking aobut, but I have had plaintains as a side dish, and they are good.

I think it would be kind of cool to have a banana tree in my yard : ) Can you grow oranges too?