When Bananas Flower
“For you my love,” he said as he dropped it into my hands. I looked at him smiling from under the rim of his train drivers working hat, brushing his hands on a very soiled pair of King G’s.
“Wohhh…” I said. Speechless.
“Shall we go to the kitchen?”, I asked Bhumi who was sitting on my lap, wearing her favourite swimming cozy handed down from Aunty Sally (where all the favourites come from), and drawing all over her legs with a blue biro.
“Nooooo”, she said. Her favourite word of the moment, that can most often mean the exact opposite. I got a spilling feeling in my heart that could only be expressed with a huge pressing kiss on her cheek. I tasted salt on my lips from this-mornings trip to the beach.
Bhumi sat in the kitchen sink, full of cool water, making a mess, while I peeled the banana flower. It’s a most romantic experience when your loved one brings you flowers, but a banana flower is altogether indescribable. Its first layers are all at once vibrant but dusky in colour, each petal revealing fronds of lemon yellow florets. As I peel further to its centre, despite the heat of the day, its becomes cool in the palms of my hands, now moistened by the diamond-like dew drops that decorate its surface.
Layer by layer I reach the heart…strong, firm and fragrant…still beating with life force.
“Thankyou my love” I said. But he was already long gone. Back to his garden.
“Dryyyyyy!!!!” said Bhumi, spreading her pruned little fingers as she reached out for me over the edge of the sink.
“Ok” I said.
“But first, you have to take off your cozy”. It would have been the first time in three days.
“Nooooo”, she said. And this time I knew she meant it.
As you may have already gathered from my post on broccoli leaves I take great pleasure in using food sources that are otherwise laid to waste. Largely, in Australia, the banana flower is another such food. Used widely throughout many parts of the world the banana flower is rich in vitamins A, C and E. It is also a tonic for the woman’s body…when eaten with paneer it is believed to ease heavy menstruation and increase lactation for breastfeeding mumma’s (again, thats me!). It is also known for its ability to stabilise free radicals in the body while boosting the body with antioxidants.
All parts of the banana tree are very edible…so with our own little banana crop on the way I look forward to sharing more posts with you on this amazing plant. If you don’t have a crop of your own but would like to try this recipe, look out for banana flowers at the asian grocery store or farmers market. If you ask anywhere where banana’s are available, the flowers can also often be made available on request. In fact, to remove the flowers once the fruit is green and well-formed provides more energy to the fruit itself. So armed with this knowledge you might even be able to offer some free gardening advice to someone who has a flowering patch of banana’s and then slip away with the cuttings.
This recipe calls on sugar-cane juice, which I will be discussing more in my next post. The other unusual ingredient is the yellow flower from the red-ginger plant. We grow big patches of this plant all over our property…the original patch thriving just behind our vege garden where we pluck the flowers often to add to salads and stir-fries. Their flavour is incomparable to anything else. They are tart, crispy and refreshing, alive with sunshine and rain drops. If you cant grow/find this little flower you could substitute it for a green or yellow capsicum.
For the salad…
- 1 banana flower…prepared by removing all the outer layers until you reach the pale-coloured firm heart within. Slice finely and divide the pieces like an onion. To slow down the discolouration cover immediately with the juice of one lime.
- 1 large handful shaved carrot
- 1 handful red cherry tomatoes
- 1 handful yellow cherry tomatoes
- 1 handful of yellow flowers from the red-ginger plant
- 1/2 bunch torn coriander
- I small block of tofu, sliced into long strips and fried in coconut oil until crispy.
For the dressing…
- 1/2 bunch of coriander, chopped
- 1/2 a cup fresh sugar cane juice (or 1/2 a cup of water with a tablespoon of coconut or rapadura sugar)
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- The juice of one lime, additional to the lime added to the banana flower
- 1 green chilli
- 1 small knob of fresh ginger
- A dash of tamari
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Combine the dressing with the salad immediately before serving. Top with handfuls of toasted cashew nuts.
I served it up in one of the outer petals and we ate it in the shade of our new back garden…tossing the remains to the plants as a little extra mulch when we’d finished. I loved that he bought me a flower…and I gave it back to him as a meal. As I watched him enjoy it I received all over again.