Africa: B-a-n-a-n-a-s (literally, not figuratively)

I grew up with bananas as one of my favorite fruits.  Tasted good.  Easily transportable. You could slide on the peels, so there’s some entertainment value, which does not often come with other fruit varieties.  I didn’t know what I was missing eating the regular old dole or chiquita imported-for-american-consumption banana until much later in life, and discovered that there are a lot of other kinds of bananas and most (if not all of them) taste better than what you’re buying at the supermarket each week.

I was reading about what kinds of meals we’ll be served at the volunteer house and what the main ingredients will be – ugali (similar to cassava), beans, rice, curry, etc.  Fresh fruits and juices, etc.  And then it says – lots of bananas! (There are over 120 kinds of bananas in Tanzania!)  That is a lot of bananas and a lot of variety of bananas.  I’m told there is even banana beer (this I’ve got to try) made from mashed up fermented bananas.  I mean, if they’re in abundance, why not?

Once again, Samoa comes into the discussion.  Because they have the best bananas that I’ve had so far in my life.  Those short “apple/manzanita” bananas are so sweet and flavorful and make stellar banana bread… and there always seems to be a bunch hanging somewhere nearby that is in some stage of ripening to yummy perfection.  To the right here, is a picture of the “vending machine” ———> at Taufua Beach Fales in Lalomanu…  where it seems there is an endless supply of the super sweet ones. Those, along with the green (unripe) bananas that were either boiled (preferably in coconut cream) or baked were a staple in Samoa.  Along with banana chips, supo fa’i (banana soup), and panikeke with fa’i (fried dough with chunks of banana in it), the banana was very much my friend.  But we didn’t have 120 different kinds.  I don’t know how many we had, but it wasn’t that many.

I am certainly looking forward to the diversity I will be encountering while in Tanzania, I just didn’t know it would include bananas too!


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