Intersections – The big banana
By Nicki Salcedo
I watched my son eating a banana for several minutes, and it took me awhile to realize that something was wrong.
“That’s a really big banana,” I said.
“No, it’s not,” he responded.
He is seven years old. What does he know about big bananas? A banana should take you two minutes to eat. He’d been eating for five.
I looked on the counter and saw the rest of the bunch. Sure enough they were all big enough to measure the distance from my widow’s peak to my dimpled chin. Those were big bananas.
“Where did Daddy buy the bananas?” I asked.
“The Farmers Market,” my son said.
“Well, they are selling GMO bananas at the Farmers Market.”
The child, who had no idea when to worry about the size of a banana, knew exactly the meaning of GMOs. I learned about GMOs from my kids. Last week. Needless to say, my son took offense at my GMO comment, delivered at the same time he took his final bite of the gigantic banana.
I wanted to tell him the details of how you become a banana expert. Like being born in Jamaica and eating banana fritters every Saturday of my formative years. Like being 40 years old and married. I’ve seen my share of bananas in my life. But I spared him the details of my experience.
He won’t trust me on bananas. I like my bananas yellow with green stems. Once the entire fruit is yellow, the bananas are too sweet for me. Honestly, I’m allergic to them. If I eat a ripe banana or plantain, my tongue will burn for an hour. My son is my banana opposite. He likes his speckled with brown spots. He will not eat a banana until it is past ripe, almost bad. I wonder what I did wrong to deserve such a strange banana kid.
Brown bananas have their place in my life. Cooked into other things like pancakes and muffins. Even paleo style mushed up with egg or egg and almond meal is pretty darn good. Better yet sautéed with butter and brown sugar. You can’t do that with green stem bananas. I’m a banana expert.
I spent the rest of my week hunting for the big bananas. I’m always in a grocery store. I’m not overly brand loyal. I go to the Dekalb Farmers Market and Kroger. I go to the Little Kroger and Big Kroger. Big Kroger is becoming the Really Really Big Kroger. I know a big Kroger when I see one. I know Kroger the same way I know bananas. Years of experience.
I go to Publix and Whole Foods. I have never ever seen a really big banana in Whole Foods. I have also never bought bananas in Whole Foods. I have bought cherries and fresh fish and the good cheese, but never bananas. Probably because the bananas at Whole Foods are extra small. I’ve got to find a happy medium somewhere.
I go to Trader Joe’s when I’m on that side of town. No one is in there for the bananas unless they start shoving bananas in bottles of wine. So I have to rely on my neighborhood grocery stores and the Farmers Market.
My kids have mixed feelings about the Farmers Market. It is bitterly cold inside. So cold that we keep spare coats in the car all summer for unexpected shopping trips. We mark the changing of the seasons by how close the temperature outside matches the temperature inside.
When I was a kid, I had mixed feeling about the same Farmers Market too. It was smaller and at another location down the road. There always seemed to be an inch of gray water on the floor. I would beg my mom not to make me go with her. In those days, she was looking for the bigger bananas and cantaloupe and fish. Now the size of things makes me suspicious.
I still sing the “Let’s go Krogering” song from 1980, which means I’m pretty excited for The Really Really Big Kroger. Not that I need one, but I can buy a baby crib at 2 a.m. in the grocery store if I need to. You know how those baby showers sneak up on you.
I’m not as certain about the future home of the new Farmers Market. I’ve been watching the terraforming of the land each day. I have seen more coyotes, rats, and rabbits in my yard than I have seen in my entire life. There is a new wall holding up the ground that can be seen from outer space. Suddenly the Really Really Big Kroger looks like a botanical garden.
All this, just so I can get big bananas?
I’m not one to boycott places, unless they are places I already don’t go. If I looked deeply into the business practice of any business, I would be without any place to shop. I admit I shop everywhere. You can get a half a pound of turmeric for 27 cents at the Farmers Market. Kroger keeps my 2 a.m. shopping habit covered. If Whole Foods dares to open a store in Decatur, let it be known now, I will buy all the good cheese on opening day. I’ll still be spotted at Publix. There are those days where I do not have the strength to push my grocery cart to my car.
I needed the bananas to remind me that bigger isn’t always better or worse. But it does grab my attention every now and then.
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.