Poisonous peel and other banana mysteries
It is said that travelling broadens your mind and educates the traveller. And while this sounds like a very good excuse to book the next vacation, I firmly believe it is true. Having spent a wile in the US made me clear, for example, how German I was and it made me like some qualities you associate with Germany and that I was very annoyed of before. And maybe it’s not the worst result of being abroad, to see your own culture in another light, to understand that most things work very differently in other places of the world. There are always more possibilities in the world than you might think. Take banana peel for example.
Home of the sweet banana
When I’ve been to Brazil the first time I realized that I didn’t know a lot about Brazilian or tropical fruits and that was even true for one fruit which is a basic nutriment in Germany: bananas. Because in Brazil there is a variety of Bananas, I didn’t know existed. In Germany people are only used to one kind of banana (close to the Brazilian “banana nanica”), in the last years baby bananas have also become popular (the “banana prata”) and as something very excotic: cooking bananas (“banana da terra”). My first surprise in Brazil was to find out that bananas can actually be very sweet and full of taste. Because bananas shipped to Germany are usually picked green, they ripen on the ship and they lack taste. But not only are bananas sweeter and richer in aroma, there are also more varieties than the ones above. “Banana maça” for example is a small banana that tastes like apple (therefore the name) and “banana pacova” is a relative to the “banana da terra” mostly used for frying.
Peel it – banana peel is good to eat
Another banana surprise I’ve made just recently: banana peel is edible and nutritive, rich in vitamin, fibres etc.. Imagine my surprise after mindlessly throwing away banana peel for decades. And even more so since bananas in Germany come from giant mono-cultures that require heavy use of insecticides, pesticides and what else, banana peel is said to be almost poisonous and people are advised to wash their hands after peeling a banana before eating the fruit! Yes, you can eat banana peel and it seems to be a versatile food as well. It does not only make delicious sweets and cake (English recipe), you can also use it for salty dishes in a curry (English recipe) or even as a substitute for meat or to make a tea. You can find 5 easy recipes here.
Banana peel hamburger at Quiosque do Romildo – Canal 6
To complete my discovery of banana peel as a food resource, I’ve also recently found out that there is a possibility to try it in Santos. Even more exciting, it is one of the quiosques in the beach park which are normally and unfortunately known for their identical and pretty low quality, greasy food. But “Quiosque do Romildo” at Canal 6 (here is their Facebook page) seem to be an exception to this rule. Their “Banana peel hamburger” was the winning entry in a competition for better food at the beach quiosques and it gives you an excellent opportunity to try some “new” old food. The banana peel has an interesting but not very strong taste but a much more soft texture than real meat. This was the only problem with the banana peel burger at Romildo’s: the taste was good, but they used a bread which was quite stiff – not soft as a normal hamburger bun – and this way the bread mashed the banana peel burger. But hey, it is definitely worth an experience.