Ascetic August, or: SOK goes on a diet

1 Aug

It’s been a year of pretty indulgent eating for me, and I’m attending a wedding next month, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to kind of hit the reset button on my eating habits, so to speak. That’s why this month, I’ll be focusing on the exotic fruits and vegetables of Malaysia. It’s like a healthy version of my month of burgers from last summer.

Kicking things off is a fruit that will hardly seem exotic: the humble banana. The bananas we’re familiar with from the supermarket are only a small tip of the banana iceberg, and a not very tasty one at that. Estimates on the number of varieties vary, but there are around 500 varieties that are cultivated commercially. (Another bit of trivia: did you know that the banana “tree” is actually a grass?) The most widely marketed, at least in the US, Europe, and non-banana-growing parts of Asia, is Cavendish; it’s also one of the blandest varieties I can think of. I was lucky enough to grow up in Hawaii, where they also grow a variety they call apple bananas, which are sweeter, tangier, and creamier than the Cavendish. I haven’t been able to find quite the same thing in Malaysia, but no matter, because they’ve got something even better: pink bananas.

(They look more orange than pink in this photo, but you get the idea.) Alas, only the skin is pink; the flesh is your standard banana-cream-yellow. Flavor-wise, this is an ideal banana: not mushy or bland, but creamy and tangy.

Alternate banana varieties can be hard to find if you don’t live in the tropics, but sometimes they crop up (…so to speak) in the exotic fruit sections, or at your local Asian/Caribbean/Hispanic market. If you see pink bananas, give them a try, and let me know what you think!

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