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Day of the Banana trees

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15715.  Sun Feb 27, 2005 8:15 pm Reply with quote

So, I saw on the programme once about banana trees (and how they're not actually trees, they're bushes, and bananas are not fruits they're berries).

I also saw that the banana trees/bushes (what are you supposed to call them, anyway? can..uhm... move. Walk. This sounds crazy, and Stephen Fry thought it was too, but some of the researches quickly found out that it was actually true and they move about 20cm a lifetime. I was wondering if anyone could give me some more information on this, some website that confirms this, as my incessant googling turned up nothing other than Google referring me to a good psychiatrist.

15725.  Mon Feb 28, 2005 4:34 am Reply with quote

Mort - welcome to the site. You could start your search in the thread called "Bananas, some fascinating facts about" which is in the same forum as this one ("The B List") and is currently about four headers below this one.

15726.  Mon Feb 28, 2005 4:39 am Reply with quote

The online quiz on the BBCi website during the show's run had a question on this; here's part of the answer we gave:

What is a banana?
Botanically speaking the banana is a berry, and it grows on a plant that's a herb (not a tree).

Commercially-grown varieties of banana don't contain seeds - new plants are grown from cuttings and are virtual clones of one another, which makes them unusually susceptible to disease. The variety Gros Michel, for example, was entirely wiped out in the 1960s, and the Cavendish, its successor as top banana, is currently threatened also (although the risk is thought to be manageable).

That famous EU Regulation is 2257/94 as amended by Regulation 386/97 ("sizing is determined by:- the length of the fruit expressed in centimetres and measured along the convex face, from the blossom end to the point where the peduncle joins the crown"). Incidentally, the largest producer of bananas in Europe is Iceland, which grows them in thermal hot-houses - not that anyone asked.

So: the bendy yellow thing you eat is a "berry", which is a kind of "fruit", and the plant on which it grows is a "herb".

15777.  Wed Mar 02, 2005 5:43 pm Reply with quote

Just think! My whole life has been lived a lie!

15780.  Wed Mar 02, 2005 6:18 pm Reply with quote

Flash are we any nearer to a result for the BBC quiz?

15783.  Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:14 pm Reply with quote

I've sent you a private message, Carl.

15792.  Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:34 am Reply with quote

Just read through the other Banana thread, and it reminded me:

Despite bananas seeming like they are custom made for humans with their ready-made wrapping - the first bananas that came to America were peeled and re-wrapped in tin-foil before being sold.

15796.  Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:34 am Reply with quote

Wonderful, and completely bananas. Do we have a source for that?

15798.  Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:44 am Reply with quote

The International Banana Association (IBA) (a trade organization consisting of members engaged in the business of importing bananas into the United States.) - as well as many other places.

Bananas were officially introduced to the American public at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Each banana was wrapped in foil and sold for 10 cents. Before that time, bananas came to America on the decks of sailing ships as sailors took a few stems home after travelling in the Caribbean.

15803.  Thu Mar 03, 2005 1:32 pm Reply with quote

Don't forget the first president of Zimbabwe - Canaan Banana 1936-2003

15805.  Thu Mar 03, 2005 1:46 pm Reply with quote

Nice as the idea of unzipping a banana and wrapping it in foil is, sadly that website makes no mention of the unzipping part - just of the wrapping in foil part.

15815.  Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:35 am Reply with quote

On reflection Jenny, it may be part of my overactive imagination.

15816.  Fri Mar 04, 2005 5:09 am Reply with quote

According to the above site, these foil-wrapped bananas had “instructions on how to eat the banana… included on a small paper tagged to the foil”. I would imagine that kinda confirms that they were wrapped ‘fully-zipped’, either that or the vendors had a very low opinion of their customers!

I can’t find any back-up for that claim, however these instructions on how to eat the fruit appeared in the Domestic Cyclopedia of Practical Information at around the same time:

"Bananas are eaten raw, either alone or cut in slices with sugar and cream, or wine and orange juice. They are also roasted, fried or boiled, and are made into fritters, preserves, and marmalades."

So disappointing to find out that a factoid you thought was true is actually a product of your imagination... ho hum.

Boiled bananas? Yuk.

15819.  Fri Mar 04, 2005 9:46 am Reply with quote

Slit lengthways through the peel, with some bits of chocolate inserted in the slit, wrapped in foil and then put on a barbecue, they do make a good dessert.

16017.  Thu Mar 10, 2005 12:37 pm Reply with quote

They are nice generally with chocolate, especially chocolate raisins.

Ooh, and of course, with ice cream and custard.


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