Who doesn’t love a banana? It’s the world’s most popular fruit. Some 25 pounds of bananas are consumed per capita each year.
In the U.S., more bananas are consumed than oranges and apples combined! And August 27th is National Banana Lovers Day.
Bananas were introduced to the U.S. in 1880. By 1910, bananas were so popular that cities—which then lacked sanitation systems—had a problem disposing of the banana peels.
People were literally slipping on banana peels that were discarded on sidewalks and streets (a reality appropriated by comedians), leading to injuries. The Boy Scout Handbook recommended picking up banana peels from the street as a Scout’s good deed of the day (source).
Banana Bread? Banana Cream Pie? Banana Daiquiri? Banana French Toast? Banana Ice Cream? Banana Pudding? Peanut Butter and Bananas?
We say YES! to all, but today are focusing on two: the kid favorite Banana Split and the over-21 Bananas Foster.
Two towns in the U.S. lay claim as the home of the banana split.
RECIPE: GRILLED BANANA SUNDAE
Banana splits are easy to make: Split a ripe banana vertically, place it in a long dish, top with three scoops of ice cream (traditionally vanilla, chocolate and strawberry) and toppings of choice. (You can get Anchor Hocking banana split dishes for about $2 each.)
Here’s a twist: a grilled banana sundae, a cross between the classic and Bananas Foster. In the latter, bananas are caramelized in butter with brown sugar and cinnamon, then topped with dark rum and flambéed, with the bananas and the flaming sauce served over vanilla ice cream.
We’ve included a Bananas Foster recipe below. The recipes are very similar, except that for Bananas Foster, the bananas are sautéed in butter instead of grilled; and alcohol is added to the caramel sauce. The banana is typically sliced in half lengthwise and crosswise.
Ingredients For 4 Servings
1. PREHEAT a grill pan over medium heat for 5 minutes.
2. CUT the bananas in half lengthwise and crosswise for a total of 4 pieces each. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in shallow dish. Gently coat the bananas with the sugar mixture.
3. SPRAY the grill pan lightly with vegetable oil and add the banana pieces, cut sides down. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side or until grill marks appear.
RECIPE: BANANAS FOSTER
The original Bananas Foster recipe was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé (1900 to 1977), the Executive Chef at Brennan’s in New Orleans. The dish of sautéed bananas, flambéed and topped with ice cream, was named in honor of Richard Foster, a regular customer and friend of restaurant owner Owen Brennan Sr.
Note that while both the recipes above and the original Bananas Foster cut the bananas into oblong pieces (see photo above), we prefer the round slices of banana, about 3/4-inch thick.
While igniting the dish tableside is dramatic both at a restaurant and at home, it isn’t necessary.
Ingredients For 4 Servings
1. CUT the bananas in half lengthwise and crosswise for a total of 4 pieces each (alternative: cut 3/4″ rounds; you’ll have more than 4 pieces).
2. MELT the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes—this creates a caramel sauce). Add the bananas and cook on both sides until they begin to soften and brown (about 3 minutes).
3. ADD the banana liqueur and stir to blend into the caramel sauce. If you want to flambé, follow the instructions below. However, the drama of the flambé works only if the dish is prepared tableside. Otherwise, the drama is lost in the kitchen (the flame extinguishes quickly).
4. LIFT the bananas carefully from the pan and top the four dishes of ice cream; then spoon the sauce over the ice cream and bananas and serve immediately.
 Bananas Foster at the Bonefish Grill, looking like a more complex Banana Split.  It’s harder to sauté a lengthwise half of banana without breaking it. Hence, the suggestion of slicing lengthwise and crosswise (photo Fotolia).  This recipe from Taste Of Home slices the bananas into coin shapes (a.k.a. chunks), easier to salute.
READY FOR A DRINK?
Relax with a Banana Colada.