BAKE Chivalry: Brown Sugar Banana Bread

September 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

So, what does baking have to do with mindfulness?

Kitchens connect people. I think that the food that we cook and eat is deeply personal; it is, after all, something we take into ourselves every day, to nourish and sustain us. On some primal level, sharing a meal with someone is consent to a conspiracy of life. You don’t feed your enemies — tables are set for friendship.

Because of this, appreciating and respecting other foodways is an easy way to work towards a global understanding. Food is at the center of culture– but unlike other elements of culture  that are personal and deeply felt (like religion or politics), food is immediate and tangible to the senses. By itself, eating what someone feeds you (and being agreeable about it) is an act of acceptance and appreciation.

Food is also a good place to look for connections and commonalities. Approach a new culture by asking about its food and hear the history that spirals from the story. Because every person must be nourished, every aspect of culture passes through the kitchen. A thoughtful look at the meals, marketplaces and pantries of different cultures often reveals wonderful likenesses with our own.

That said:

BAKE Chivalry: Brown Sugar Banana Bread

“Cut and come again”  bakes like banana bread are a fulfillment of the idea of food as an expression of hospitality. These cakes are meant to be shared; their presence on a countertop reveals an expectation of company, a desire to provide. They are imbued in their very nature with welcome and care.

I wanted to start this series off right at home, with a baked good that epitomizes a dearly-held and nostalgic vision of American cookery: something simple, homey, hearty, all-purpose. And article I read as a child left me with the notion that 95% of Americans rather like bananas, making it the United States’ favorite fruit. Suspect info, to be sure, yet I think time let it settle in my brain because I’ve never found anyone to disenchant me from the idea. “Bananas aren’t my favorite,” people say, but there’s no ire in that.

And perhaps the plausibility of that absurd statistic is what most beautifully describes how we braid our diverse inheritances into our native foundations. How the blossoming of cultural interaction makes things once foreign, familiar. This recipe is fragrant with the fruit of faraway tropical landscapes, sweetened with molasses from the West Indes, spiced with bark from a cinnamon forest half-way around the world.

This hearty, homey fare, staple of many an American kitchen, is a child of deeply stacked layers of trade. We’re always less isolated in our traditions than we think we are.

Brown Sugar Banana Bread

1.5 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

.5 tsp salt

4 bananas, mashed

7 tbsp. butter, melted

.75 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. fat free sour cream

Preheat oven to 375* F.  Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk together bananas, melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into greased 9×5 loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes, or until skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out cleanly. Allow to cool before eating for the best flavor!

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