How Do Grannies Eat Those?

July 7th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Summer is when bananas brown, then blacken fast. Hiding them in the fridge gives you an extra day, but they’re doomed like the pretty supporting actress in the sci-fi flick.

Yet, my grandmother was one of many who could hardly wait for what most of us think of bananas gone bad. She’d set aside a few in her pantry just for them to turn black.

She had other country eating habits that moderately appalled me. The worst was surely her raw passion for the chicken neck. That gnarly mess that was trash to me, when cooked looked like a stick you’d pick out of a stream, was perfection to Mabel.

When I heard a Bill Cosby routine about this, I got it thoroughly. He spoke of his mother or grandmother making love to a chicken neck. The skit had lots of sucking noises, including finger cleaning. That was the otherwise prim Mabel totally engaged in capturing every fragment of cervical goodness from that overbaked osteoid arc.

She was also the one who’d be sure to have a wee seafood fork when we had a beef roast. She’d pluck the marrow from the bone and savor it. That was a much quieter display.

Of course, the aim of eating each of what was trash to me was sweetness of one type or another.

It’s true enough that black bananas as ripe and redolent. You can smell them as you approach the house, as can every six-legged flying critter, all of whom seem determined to beat you to them. Sure they’re soft to the point of being pulpy. The flavor is so strong and the sweetness so intense, they overpower all, like a cloying version of a stinky cheese.

That’s the point for someone who likes sweetness with intense aroma and flavor.

Likewise, Mabel would take the magnificent local peaches and ruin them to my mind with sugar. In the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, she was surrounded by apple and peach orchards on the mountainsides. Granddad would keep her supplied with the biggest, best and ripest peaches. I’d like them out of the wooden baskets, but Mabel wanted them even sweeter. She’d slice them, sprinkle sugar around and store them in the fridge for a day or even two. The chemical changes broke down the structure a bit, making them softer, darker colored and even sweeter.

Banana, neckbone, marrow or peach, the points were sweetness and intensity.

Today, I’ll keep four or five browning bananas, but only for secondary purposes. They are the basis for great banana bread, and can make delightful pancake augmentation or even an ice-cream like frozen dessert.

I don’t have Mabel’s sweet tooth. In fact, I’ve gotten less of one as I age. Candy bars I used to love, like Heath Bar, are far too sweet to me now. I favor a 70% bittersweet chocolate square. When I bake pie or banana bread I put in half or a third of a traditional portion of sugar. I want the flavor intensity to outrun the sweetness.

De gustibus though. Mabel thoroughly enjoyed her treats. To those who eat only to live, I say that’s a noble construct, but my grandmother got serious, repeated pleasures from her treats.


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