My favorite fruit are bananas. There are plenty of other fruits I also like but bananas hail way back to when I was a child.
Most kids’ first fruit is a banana. I remember mashing up bananas for my own toddlers, and mashing them to make banana bread when they were older.
I still love banana bread today. It’s a good way to use up soft bananas. I like my banana bread with cinnamon, nutmeg, and walnuts, and sometimes vanilla flavored butter icing on top. Yum!
So why are bananas my favorite fruit? Because they are one of the most sensual items I eat…
Now, calm down. We all know banana jokes, (and some of us have even learned how to use protection by clothing a banana). But this is not that type of experience (though I sometimes tease my husband by biting a banana in front of him).
When you eat food sensually, it is far more satisfying. It is not a gobbled experience full of wind that fills up the stomach and makes it bloat. It is not about ‘replenishing the tank ‘. It is an art form.
I never remove the skin completely from my banana until the very last moment. I like to peel it down in petals and leave the bottom intact so I can get a good grip. Then, the first thing I do is to put as much of that banana as will fit, deep into my mouth. (Yeh, yeh, I know what you’re thinking… let’s not go there… :-))
Then I shut my teeth a little and draw the banana back out of my mouth, shaving off banana as it goes. This leaves juicy, soft, mushy banana for my tongue to savor, to roll around and squish a while before swallowing the sweetness.
Ripe but not soft bananas are best for this work, because the flavor is full and sweet – much better than candy or lollies…
I keep repeating this action, turning the banana so that each shave off happens in a different area, and eventually I have a very thin and glistening banana core sitting in the chunk still left in the skin. Only then, as the skinny banana core begins to droop, do I begin to bite – small bites in sizes that are squishable with my tongue and can be rolled around in my mouth before swallowing.
Food is one of the first pleasures a child learns in life. When I was young, my Nanna would take me to the (now closed) Coles cafeteria in Melbourne for a banana split. It had a beautiful big split-in-half banana, two glistening white balls of vanilla icecream, drizzles of translucent banana topping, sprinkles of crushed nuts on top, and two shards of triangle wafers.
I loved eating every bit of that banana split, sitting in what I thought was a very elegant cafeteria like a grown up, with my Nanna. But the part that makes a banana split what it is, is the banana…
A few years back, we had severe storms and cyclones in the tropical region we live in. The banana plantations of north Queensland were almost completely wiped out. So greengrocers and supermarkets had to source bananas from higher cost growers interstate. Prices skyrocketed and one banana could cost ten dollars or more. I would not buy bananas at that price, so we had a semi-dearth of bananas in our home for nearly a year.
We do have a couple of banana trees in part of our garden. But they don’t produce the large cavendish bananas that we like to eat. Plus, they never grow bigger than a skinny finger, and half the time the fruit bats get to them before they can fully ripen. They’re nice little bananas, (knowing we grew them ourselves), but they have nothing on the cavendish.
It’s amazing how you miss such favorite things when they are no longer there. It wasn’t just the kids in our home who felt an emptiness inside because there were no big bananas. I did, too.
Yes, there were plenty of other fruits to experience, and plenty of other experiences to savor, but when cavendish bananas finally came back onto the market at a reasonable price, I was among the first in line to purchase.
Since bananas began my food journey, I have enjoyed similar experiences with many other foods. I can’t have a monte carlo biscuit without squishing it together till the icing oozes out, licking off the icing all around the edges, and only then nibbling the biscuit round the edges to gradually whittle it away in ever reducing circles until I finally discover the bed of jam inside.
My husband rarely eats a biscuit without dropping crumbs. He once asked me how I do it, to not drop crumbs. So I told him it’s because with every nibble I take, the tip of my tongue reaches out to feel every crumb and draw it into my mouth. Not one crumb is wasted on me. Even eating a biscuit is a sensual experience.
Darlings, this is what is called endorphin generation ! Endorphins are the good chemicals your body generates when you are pleased, and they help to harmonize the body, reduce inflammation and stress, and lots of other good things.
The senses we have been given in life – sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste – are all ways of engaging, of living, and of being. In every moment that we take the time to enjoy the experience of any one of these senses, we are fully alive and in harmony with the cosmos.
When you live life this way, enjoying to the full every moment and exploring even the tiniest nuance – the smallest crumb, and every ‘mouthful’ to its complete end – there are no boring moments.
You can never despair that life is not giving back or that you receive no blessings at all when you can examine each moment in such depth.
Other things may go on in the world around you, or even to you, that are not so good, but so long as you retain that ability to engage fully with each moment, and to find the beauty in the smallest morsel of the mundane, your spirit is able to rise above any consequence.
(Unless, of course, the consequence is from having too much of all those lovely tasting moments… which is another story altogether …but, hey, we still love our pets when they’re fat and cuddly… and buddha ended up fat and happy, and still lived to the age of 80, they say…. so all is good …says she who really would like to drop a few dress sizes ! )