A jack of all trades, I currently find myself office-sitting at a holistic healthcare clinic while the away team enjoys sun, yoga and healthy eating at one of its retreats in Sri Lanka. While I am relishing being near an Eat (its huge hearty soups make a really perfect winter lunch), there is moderate jealously lurking that, as I battle the seasonal sniffles, huddle by a radiator and navigate puddles, they’re busy doing sun salutations and scoffing my favourite Sri Lankan bananas. It’s an image that’s proving hard to shift….
I’ve just got back from a two week holiday in Sri Lanka and am already missing its bananas, which are out-and-out, no contest, the best goddamn bananas I have ever eaten, anywhere, ever. Full stop. Amen.
In fact, before visiting Sri Lanka, I don’t think I’d ever really eaten a proper banana, just mere imitations of them: under-ripe, over-refridgerated, no-life-left-in-them apologies for bananas which (I realise now) must have little nutritional value and certainly no taste to speak of.
In Sri Lanka, there are more than 20 different types of banana, each with their own name, and the Sri Lankans are very proud of them.
“We have small ones, big ones, some as large-as-your-arm-ones, red ones, sweet ones, salty ones and some only for cooking,” said our guide, with an enthusiastic wag of his head, when we brought them up one day.
“Bananas very good for your health,” said another Sri Lankan seriously. “Government say bananas lower cholesterol, help heart and stop cancer. That is why in Sri Lanka very little cancer. Because of bananas.”
I can well believe it. We had bananas every day while we were there as part of our morning fruit platter, which comprised Sri Lankan papaya, Sri Lankan pineapple and the smallest, sweetest (and most popular) variety of Sri Lankan banana, known as Seeni Kesel. And – would you believe it – with its tangy sweet flavour, warmed-by-the-sun ripeness, and fell-from-the-tree-five-mins-ago freshnesss, the banana stole the show every time!
Of course, the problem with great banana enlightenment is that prior ignorance (blissful or otherwise) is forever lost. This means that my usual Sainsbury’s banana (which I’ve happily eaten chopped up on my cereal or porridge for years, but now recognise as mere mockery) has been forever ruined. Quite simply, I’ve moved into the first class lounge of banana-eating, and, from now on, if my bananas aren’t Sri Lankan, it’s no bananas at all!