Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yes, We Have No Bananas

The sweet yellow banana found in our super markets is the descendant of a mutant plant that was found growing in a Jamaican plantain field, in 1836. The new banana could be eaten without cooking. Jean Francois Poujot, the owner of the field, quickly began propagating the new banana.

The new banana strain grew in popularity. It was a favorite at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, selling for a hefty ten cents each.

Romans ate bananas, but they were lost to Europe when trade with Africa collapsed with the fall of the Roman Empire. Bananas were one of the things that 15th Century Portuguese explores brought back to Europe, reestablishing the African trade in bananas. Soon they were being cultivated in the New World.

All the banana's in the supermarket are of one strain--the Cavendish. The 1923 song, "Yes, We have No Bananas" was written when the Gos Michel (Big Mike) banana was being lost to a fungus that spread through the worldwide mono-culture fields of the Gros Michel. The same fungus, the Panama Disease, is now destroying the Cavendish fields. The fate of the banana is yet to be known. Will science win this round or will it once again be "Yes, We Have No Bananas."

Friday, September 14, 2012

GI Joe & The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Did you know that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches served on machine sliced bread was a staple of WWII military meals? It provided a fast and nutritious meal, with a sugar boost, in cold camps. Many of the soldiers liked the sandwiches so much that they continued eating them when they returned to the states after the war.

Next time you have a PB&J sandwich, take a bite as a salute to the men who served as WWII soldiers.

Pancakes a Favorite for 9,000 Years

Call them pancakes, griddle cakes, or flapjacks; this mixture of flour, milk, eggs, and oil has been a pipping hot, mouthwatering favorite since the first days of farming. The mixture is a tasty way to utilize the resources generated by farming. Archaeological evidence proves we humans have been eating pancakes right from the beginning of farming 9,000 years ago.

The word flapjacks may conjure up an image of a chuckwagon and cowboys breakfasting, on a summer prairie morning with cows lowing in the background, in your imagination, but you would be wrong. Flapjacks are a name first applied to griddle cakes in Tudor times. Shakespeare mentions them in his plays. The Greeks ate pancakes they called tiganites over 2,600 years ago. Nearly every culture has a similar recipe. The pancakes spread along with farming.