Puunene Reunion 2007 Documentary

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sharing Rare Red Bananas From My Back Yard

Red bananas are rare in Hawaii, and they're considered specialty produce.

They can be eaten raw or cooked, the latter being what they're known for. I meant to try cooking one or two, but they went quickly, just like that.

Sharing these bananas turned out to be so much fun, I couldn't help myself.

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The bananas snuck up on me.

My gardening is, ummm, shall we say, sporadic, accidental, and occasional? Witness my lilikoi post.

Yes, I knew the banana plant was there. My Dad had gotten a keiki plant from his friend in Haiku. And, yes, I did water it once or twice when I was on that side of the house. And I did observe the banana bunch in its beginning scrawny stages of growth. Otherwise, that plant was pretty much out of my realm of consciousness. It was my Dad's banana plant, after all.

[Hence, no photo here of the bunch on the tree]

So, when Dad said he was going to cut the bunch down, and then plopped 5 hands of these monster red bananas on our kitchen table,  I was astonished!

These bananas were HUGE! And they were RED. Never saw anything like those before.

What do you do with 5 hands of unusual bananas? Share them, of course!

But were they edible raw? They were substantial, solid, an unusual color, different ... almost intimidating, I would say.

A Google search assured me that I could eat them raw.

So I sliced a piece from what looked like a ripe banana (the color was a little lighter than the others and the banana was softer) and pronounced it not quite ripe enough, but definitely edible.

In fact, Delicious! Kind of like apple bananas, but sweeter. I learned that they're also called strawberry bananas.

I brought a hand to school a couple of days later, and introduced the bananas to my 7th grade advisees. I warned them that these bananas were for adventurous eaters only,  those willing to try something new, risk takers.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. Yes, these bananas were definitely winners.

I cut up the rest of the hand and placed the pieces at the library door for other students to try. Success again -- "Soooo good" murmured the students, some coming back for another piece.

There were bananas for anyone who expressed the smallest bit of interest. "Take a piece. You can't eat a whole one -- too much. You gotta try it."

Always the reluctant, puzzled look. Then, a variation of "Wow! Those bananas are Big, and they're Red." Then after a bite, always the pronouncement that these bananas were indeed special.

We feasted on those bananas for several days.

The bananas even sprouted a delightful thank-you card with red bananas on the front, from a colleague. 

And five hands later, the red bananas were gone. Just like that.

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Pfft -- you say. Okay, so they're red bananas and they're rare, what's the big deal?

Here's my take on my red banana experience:

Yes, I could have kept those bananas for myself, frozen them, and made fancy delights like Banana Flambe or Creamy Red Banana Pie. I could have made them l-a-a-a-s-t.

But sharing nature's bountiful, unadorned, simple gifts with those around me just felt natural and good. Period.
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Banana trees do fade away after they've given up a bunch, which is a bummer.

"But another plant is shooting up," my Dad announced. 

So I wandered over to take a peek.

Sure enough. A keiki sprouted and it's looking like it's going to take. So maybe someday soon there'll be another bunch of rare red bananas to share.

What about you? What simple gift have you unexpectedly received, and shared? I'd love to hear your story.

(◕‿◕) @Celebrate_Maui