Peeling Back the Layers

I used to be an apple a day girl, until I went to live in Sri Lanka the first time and fell in love with sweet little Ambul bananas.  Ever since, my love affair with bananas in general has remained steadfast, and it was a joy to be able to grow and eat my own.

Peeling back the layers 1

Almost on a par with the coconut’s six layers (about which I’ve posted previously), the banana’s layers move from edible vegetable

Peeling back the layers 2

through multi-fingered fruitlings

Peeling back the layers 3

and often colourful mature fruit

Peeling back the layers 4

to at last reveal the luscious creamy fruit (or tannin-y flesh, in the case of cooking bananas!).  Though my allegiance to a daily ambul remains (Australia’s “Lady’s Fingers”, though not as sweet, seem to be the same), the greatest treat was during the short season of the ana maalu – its fragrant, slightly spicy flesh as silky smooth as a panna cotta.

Peeling back the layers 5

Other terrific layers, including the arresting shot of a crinkly versa cabbage by Sara Rosso, are to be found at WP’s Photo Challenge for this week.

59 thoughts on “Peeling Back the Layers

  1. I’ve never seen such colorful bananas here in California. We do get little ones, fingerlings, but I think the ones we get here are from South America somewhere. Bananas are a staple in our household too, full of great vitamins and minerals.

  2. Wow, I’d never realised just how many different hues of bananas there are . The basic yellow tend to be the ones on sale here though sometimes I see a greener variety which I take to be unripened. I’ll have to look again and see now. I hadn’t even given thought to the fact that bananas could taste different too depending upon how sweet they are, though one thing not in doubt is how good they are for you. Quite an eye opener of a post for me. Thank you !
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • The bananas of Sri Lanka were an eye-opener for me too, David. It was terrific to try all the different varieties I found about the place because we too (in Australia) are limited to the old Chicita/Dole/Cavendish lasts well on the shelf variety. Have a look, but I doubt the green ones are a different variety – just unripe, as you’ve always assumed!

  3. That shot of all the colourful bananas is beautiful. I would never have thought bananas could be that many colours. My personal banana habits are limited to green, yellow and then brown, and that is all one banana.

    • Ha ha ha 🙂

      I hate it when they go brown – though they then come into their own for cooking up sweet things!

      As with so many things, Sri Lanka provided a revelation for me. As a girl, living in a fruit growing area of Australia bananas were banned for fear of fruit fly so the only time I even saw them was when we went to the city. The first time, I ate so many I got hives which sort of made me fussy about them … until Sri Lanka introduced me to some of the myriad varieties of bananas there actually are.

  4. I’ve never seen these colorful sweet little Ambul bananas before, but I know the short sweet bananas are so delicious, totally different from the regular bananas! These are beautiful photos, perfect for the layers.

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  7. Interesting post. I’d never seen different color banana’s, like a rainbow. Local home grown banana’s are the best. They are worlds apart from the supermarket offerings.

  8. Now I know the fringe around the top of the “seed” is edible! The next time I see it, I’m going to pilfer it! 🙂 I’d bet nobody here eats it. I enjoyed learning about bananas! Thanks!

    • George dear, I’ve expressed myself badly: those little yellow ‘fringe’ things aren’t nice to eat! When you cut your banana flower you take off the few outer layers where the nascent bananas are fully formed like that, and use the tightly furled layers to cook with. You might like to take a look at Kumari’s banana flower salad, or her special treat – vessel muwa biscuit kudu – breaded banana flower –
      I think I explained it a little better there 🙂

    • Those teensy wheezy jewels hanging down from the flower aren’t edible Charly – I should have re-posted a photo of the Ambul – they’re shorter than my hand, less than two fingers wide, so pretty small when compared to those wooden Chiquitas you’re accustomed to. 🙂

    • There’s also the huge difference because ‘supermarket’ bananas – like tomatoes and the like – are bred to last on the shelves and as a result, they’ve lost a lot of flavour in the trade off! 🙂

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  10. This is amazing, Meredith, and such a great response. Having read the comments, you’ve got me craving a truly fresh banana and not one of those yellow things at the market.

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    • I suppose that’s true for all societies, Chandani – but you guys in Sri Lanka are lucky to still have so many natural things – things we no longer have – that many of us can (and must!) marvel at. Bananas are certainly a prime example of that!

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  13. A brilliant choice for layers! (why didn’t I think of that? :-)) And terrific photos.
    You forgot to mention the stem that has as many layers, and is just as delicious cooked!

  14. Perfect for the challenge … bananas are so healthy and the endless varieties make for very interesting dishes. The green ones steamed and later combined with a really good olive oil make a yummy alternative to potatoes. Great post …!!!!

  15. Hi Meredith, Thank you for liking my post on the Secret Society of the Tuscan Sisters. I love your photography and wanted to share a contest for food photography that is happening right now with our company, StockFood. If you go to our site, and look at the home page you will see the contest listed right under the Welcome to StockFood-Enter to Win. I am not a photographer, just represent their beautiful works. My blog is simple and I just use my ipad for photography. Thanks – my favorites in life – food & travel. Best to you.

  16. Mmmm…. Bananas. I am completely addicted. I loved when I visited Panama where they have so many different types! I have never heard of Ambul but now I need to try.

    • So you know what I mean about all the wonderful flavours. Goodness knows what Ambul are called in Panama – that’s the Sinhala name. They’re small and slightly fattish, and quite deep coloured, but the most recognisable mark is that the fruit is quite definitely faceted, with quite sharp angles to each facet. Happy hunting.

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