Presently, they’re grown in over 130 countries, chiefly for their own fruit, but in some countries are used for alcoholic drinks and ornamental plants. The biggest producers of peanuts in 2016 were India and China with 29.1 heaps and 13.1 tons, respectively.
It is likely bananas were introduced into the Americas by Portuguese sailors, who brought the fruit from West Africa from the 16th century. (They ate a substantial amount en route.) From there they traveled north to New Orleans and took awhile to catch on, but at the Philadelphia Centennial Expo in 1876, they made a huge splash. Fast forward a couple of years and the food became popular, however still not well known in Europe (seemingly French chefs hadn’t been introduced.) They hung around in New Orleans for nearly a century before famous Brennan’s Restaurant created “Bananas Foster,” a rich sweet dessert made with brown sugar, dark rum and a great deal of butter, served over ice cream.
There’s absolutely not any mention of peanuts in any journals or recipes of foodie president Thomas Jefferson, and it’s highly unlikely that he ever served them in his famous dinners. With his passion for gardening and fruits, he definitely would have adopted them, but sadly he missed out. They did not gain popularity until 50 years later.
The frequent banana variety is known as the Cavendish. And of course Chiquita and Dole dominate the global industry. No surprise when you consider that the average American eats 26 lbs each year. Though there has been much bad press calling bananas, as we understand them, could be wiped out soon, because of genetic alterations and parasitic and virus infestation, it is very likely that other varieties will raise up and take the place of the Cavendish, so fear not.
Hawaii has its banana business, mostly for local consumption, along with Florida and a smattering of other countries which grow a small amount, but this is 1 harvest which will never dominate the U.S. either for domestic use or exportation. We just don’t possess the ponds for them.
More starchy than candy, they’re considered a vegetable and seldom eaten in their raw state. Often fried or mashed, they’re a frequent street food in Africa and Asia. In addition to contained in stews and soups, or served with fish. Some celebrity chefs have featured them on the Food Network, using them in pancakes, fritters, and hot fried pieces, but the American cuisine really doesn’t lend itself to plantains, preferring the backyard variety banana instead. If you’re an adventurous cook, you may want to think about looking out plantains and whipping up a fresh dish over the weekend.
Americans consume bananas in lots of different ways, such as banana bread, banana splits, chocolate-covered frozen bananas, banana pudding, banana cream pie, sliced onto breakfast cereal, and dried chips for snacking. They also sport a couple of catchy phrases applied to them, like slipping on a peel, or even a ridiculous, yet popular old song, “Yes, we have no bananas.” (And monkeys really enjoy them.)
Late to the party, bananas have catapulted to the top of the hit parade of fruits and continue to predominate, from baby’s first solid food to grandma’s favourite snack, and everywhere in between. Featured prominently in each produce section, we automatically reach for them. Go bananas.