In Praise of Bananas


Today is the anniversary of the day in 1633 when bananas first went on sale to an amazed London public.

It’s a little-known fact that the Regency was a great banana-eating epoch, from the famed insipid banana cream pies at Almack’s to the overpriced bananas served at Vauxhall, sliced so thinly they were almost transparent. Delicate and expensive to import, bananas were a sure sign of conspicuous consumption.

As an art motif, they lost out to the gorgeously symmetrical and elegant pineapple, and although Byron mentions in several of his letters his epic work on bananas, the manuscript has sadly been lost to posterity. Wedgwood’s banana line of tableware was quickly discontinued after derogatory comments.

Gentlemen at White’s would frequently lay a banana peel on the pavement outside the famous bow window and make bets on how long it would take for someone to slip.

Beau Brummell introduced the famous banana pantaloons which were immediately banned by most hostesses for drawing room wear.

Sadly for the English, they were not blessed with such fauna as the banana slug or banana spider.

For more information on bananas, try this online museum, bananamuseum.com or join the forums at bananas.org.

Share your favorite banana story or recipe. I’m very partial to banana pancakes and fried bananas, which incorporate a lot of brown sugar and butter.

How about you?

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