Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why do bananas ripen after they are picked? Avocados, Pineapples? Ugali!

What I do best is research topics, especially topics about food. That and teaching are probably the skills I enjoy using most. Writing is a skill I wish I practiced more.

So, the question came to me, why do avocados and bananas ripen after they are picked? This question led me a few directions, and I'm going to share them.

The first was to find a paper that also tossed pineapples into this group of fruit. As I searched I ran across a paper from the University of California at Davis. It revealed the biochemical workings of the banana and avocado. UCofDavis article.

Still not quite satisfied that the deeper meaning of my why had been answered I went to the source of most of my initial searches, Wikipedia.

This led me to a side-discovery of the existence of banana flour, and now my search had turned into the idea of trying to find the traditional cuisine of the geographic regions of the world that have had bananas at least for the last 200 years so that the banana would be embedded in their cuisine. (and, of course that led to a quick side run into banana juice)

I then went on a fascinating trip to Brazil, since Brazil and India are the top two producing nations of bananas in the world. I started wondering how bananas and cheese were combined. Bananas taste good in yogurt, so I would imagine some cheeses would go especially well with bananas on a cheese plate. I found a cheese called Queijo Minas in Brazil, but I found it on a page from the United Nations... I'm excited because the depth of information is substantive, and I may have found another very useful food research tool.

My last thought on this journey which is not over with this post was sparked by the discovery of ugali, which is a boiled mixture of milk whey and flour (corn flour in Kenya and Tanzania). Boiled water and flour is a method of making couscous, which made me think, "How would cheese and corn couscous be, would they combine those ingredients in cuisines with bananas or plantains in any way?" Then I drifted into wild realms of small balls of couscous surrounding a middle of cheese