My 10.30 am pick-me-up at work is not a double shot skinny flat white with a hazelnut twist – although having just written that I half wish it were. No, it is the one fruit which has been my constant through the good times and the bad, in the northern hemisphere and the south. It is the banana.
I get into apples and then get sick of them again. Pears just have annoying personalities – sitting all stiff and tense day after day, like a maiden aunt who has stumbled into an orgy, and then in the 30 seconds that you take your eye off them, relaxing into almost instant purée. Throughout my various flings with citrus through, the banana has always been there.
I am having to bring my daily fruit fix into work one banana at a time at the moment because the office appears to have been invaded by a swarm of fruit flies which, due to their rapid life-cycle, are proving quite difficult to eradicate. This has delighted my colleague, who likes bananas until they get the slightest bit ripe, at which point it is all she can do to stop herself gagging at the smell of them. I once came into work on a warm summer’s day and announced that I had parked next to a car, the owner of which had left two bananas in the cup holder between the front seats. She sat down abruptly, horrified at the thought of the pungent welcome that would have produced at the end of the day and was rendered speechless by the thought of it.
I generally buy five bananas, one for each day of the week, on a Saturday. This leaves me an extra one this week as we have a day off on Good Friday. Rather than my fruit bowl overflowing though, I noticed tonight that just one banana remains. Unless the dogs have developed a sudden passion for them and have learned to climb, this can mean only one thing: my husband has struck. My husband who is as thin as a rake and has pate and cake and iced coffees and sultanas and all manner of delicious alternatives available to him has been waging a hostile takeover of my banana supply and has eaten the entire week’s stock over the weekend. My colleague will be pleased, they were pretty ripe.
My brother hates bananas, which is odd within my family but it is possible that a mild dislike became an entrenched hatred because the school we attended had a pudding called, ‘banana custard’ on the menu. In case you are in any doubt what that is, let me assure you there is no mystery. It was a huge vat of bright yellow custard with a load of chopped bananas swimming around in it. Unfortunately for my brother, we grew up in the days when it was thought ‘character building’ to force feed children foods they detested and a life-long hatred was begun.
I was talking about this with my parents the other night and out of the blue my father mentioned that after the war, bananas were almost impossible to get, so he and his peers were fed bananas which were actually mashed up cooked parsnips sprinkled with banana essence. After getting over the initial revulsion, we agreed that actually parsnips do have a sort of cousin-like similarity to the banana, which is odd as my brother loves parsnips – though maybe not after he reads this.
Whatever people’s feelings, I will try, in the meantime to respect the power of the banana to render non-fans at the office nauseous and to keep the ripe ones at home. I just ask my office colleagues one thing to return the favour: to keep your 4000 tiny, stinky cans of cat food tuna that you are pouring all over your salads becuse you are on the 5 and 2 diet somewhere where I don’t have to smell it. Deal? Good.