Friday, August 17, 2007

Banana Boat Dirge

Everyone knows that the Master of Bad Food is James Lileks. I've bought copies of The Gallery of Regrettable Food for all my friends and relatives. But not even he can cover EVERYTHING. I've always liked kitchen nostalgia, and I've been collecting old cookbooks for years. Country auctions are good sources for those little softcover cookbooks, which were often advertising some company's product.

I picked up some more at last week's Almonte auction, and thought I'd start sharing from my collection.

"You know, Sid, I've always liked bananas. I know that's not profound or nothin' - heck, we ALL do. But for me, it goes much beyond that." The old Far Side cartoon of the two gorillas musing about the mystery of bananas came to mind when I looked over this little booklet, with its pompous invocation of Homer, Cleopatra and Napoleon in the introductory paragraph. This is an attempt to move the banana away from the lunchbox snack and into the mainstream. Now we have innovative banana salads. Indeed, a veritable Bazaar of banana salads! And we are enjoined to eat all the salads in this book, because there's nothing worse than a banana dilettante.

So let's see what awaits us.

About half the recipes are of the fruit salad variety, like the double page spread below:

These don't look too bad, despite the black-and-white photos. Banana-peach, banana-grapefruit salads - sure, I could go for that. Though the author seems to have an inability to leave well enough alone. "Pineapple Banana Criss-Cross" finishes with the line "Serve with French dressing." And "Banana Crescent Salad" takes a perfectly nice combination of bananas, berries and grapes and tacks on "Serve with mayonnaise or cream dressing."

The mayonnaise theme oozes its way through the book. "Banana Peanut Fan Salad" isn't a bad taste combination, though I foresee some practical problems:
Peel and cut banana crosswise into halves. Split each half lengthwise and spread open as a fan. Place banana on a salad plate. (Thanks for the reminder - I was trying to balance it on the back of my wrist.) Sprinkle cut surface with chopped peanuts. Garnish with crisp greens.
Well, ok, except that you just know that when you try to eat this thing, you'll pick up a piece of banana with your fork, and all the peanuts will fall off onto the plate, unless you mash it all down a bit before eating. Oh, but wait...
Serve with mayonnaise or cream dressing.
I guess if you glop some mayonnaise on top, it'll bind the peanuts to the banana long enough for it to reach your mouth for the short trip halfway down to the stomach, which is as far as it will probably get.

"Cream dressing", by the way, is probably this one, from the back of the book:
Banana Cream Dressing

1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3/4 tsp salt

Fold banana into whipped cream. Add mayonnaise and salt.

Though for fancy occasions, you could use this:
Banana Peanut Butter Mayonnaise

1 ripe banana, mashed
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 to 3 tablespoons peanut butter

Well, so far the book has restricted itself to fruit salads, despite the occasional adulteration with mayonnaise. But the author's far more ambitious, so we also get "Banana Apple and Onion Salad", as well as "Banana Cabbage Salad" (yes, it's got mayonnaise in it, but it also has MUSTARD!).

But I've saved the best for last. Here it is; the crud de la crud:

Yes, you read aright. "Banana Sardine Boats" And there's a picture of a grey banana with a shrivelled black sardine poised on top.

But there's no need to feel cheated by the old-fashioned black-and-white photo. I discovered that last year, a braver blogger than I actually MADE this recipe! Yea, and ate it too! Here is his story. All honour to him.


Blogger muerk said...

Argh. He's The Man. That's one tough edible feat of sheer bravery.

12:56 am  
Blogger Daniel Muller said...

In response to my publicizing this recipe, a relative who shall remain nameless sent me here.

2:37 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Omigod. You can always tell '70s photography - so dour and dark, and BROWN was a favourite colour. And when I saw that chicken liver recipe, the first thing I thought was, "Hey! My mom's ashes are in that identical urn!"

9:47 pm  
Blogger Daniel Muller said...

And the competition to try this at home is fairly amazing as well. The link escaped my notice on the first visit.

10:36 pm  

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