I am very particular about fruit, but the fruit I am most particular about is the banana since I usually eat one every day. Therefore, I easily eat close to 350 bananas a year. Often, when I’m visiting friends or on vacation away from New York, I’ll go banana-less. Although I like many other fruits — blueberries, apricots, peaches, figs, plums, pluots – and what exactly is a pluot? You’ve come to the right place for that tidbit of knowledge.
According to Wikipedia – and I paraphrase liberally and perversely — a pluot is the offspring of a shotgun wedding between a plum and an apricot that was the brainstorm of a now 84-year-old biologist named Floyd Zaiger. Fortune calls Floyd “the most prolific fruit breeder in the world.” That means that when Floyd buys his rainbow, I’ll read about it in The New York Times. Fortune declares that Floyd’s “family-owned company, Zaiger’s Genetics, has patented more than 200 new varieties of fruit, all through conventional pollination.” So Floyd’s fruits get it on the old-fashioned way. When Floyd strolls the aisle of his local produce department and lingers by the cherry stand while holding a tomato, one can probably assume, “Ah ha, he’s match-making the chemato!”
Enough diversion and back to the topic at hand, my long-term relationship with the banana, possibly my longest-term relationship with any foodstuff. My daily banana eating habit has been going on for many decades. Considering all the bananas I have consumed thus far in a life where I could have easily died three times by now had I been born a dog, I am sure I have easily eaten at last ten thousand bananas, but more likely many, many more. That calculation tells me two things, “Damn! I’ve eaten a lot of bananas!” And, “Damn! Am I really that old to have eaten my weight in bananas at least forty-five times – and have died three times by now had I been born a spaniel?” How disturbing, and how disturbing to spend time figuring out those calculations. I did recently cancel my subscription to HBO, so my calculator is filling the void.
In August 1977, when I was a kid, I was hanging out with my older brother, Axel. We were eating chocolate covered frozen bananas in our parents’ kitchen. Axel was a big Elvis fan. He loved to order me to hurry up and walk our dog, Meanstreak, by shouting, “It’s Now or Never!”
So there we were in the kitchen eating our frozen bananas; Axel leaning against the sink, and I sitting in a chair. In those days we were our own TMZ. We were gossiping about Liz Taylor, and all of her health problems. Axel was certain that she was going to check out soon. I said definitively, “Naaa, your boy, Elvis, is gonna be the next one to kick.”
The next day Elvis dropped dead of a heart attack in his bathroom.
Axel always likes to say that I predicted the King’s demise, but I think he had tremendous assistance from all those fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches he scarfed regularly. I have once or twice, to my gastroenterologist’s horror, eaten a fried banana in a restaurant. It tasted quite good. The vast majority of bananas I eat are neither fried nor frozen. They’re usually straight up, but often chased with a piece of dark chocolate. As soon as the faintest spot appears, I can barely stand the taste. I like my bananas solid yellow, even tinged with a little green.
My colleague, Ling, as well as members of my family, can eat a banana so heavy with spots, it almost looks like a leopard. I would sooner sample fried jungle cat than eat a freckled banana. The idea of eating either is almost enough to make me gag. If Floyd reads this blog, I’d like to put in a request for the mush-free solid yellow banana which delays growing spots, but he’d probably advise me to just keep doing what I do, buy two at a time and deal with it. It does not take a fruit-breeding genius to figure that out.
P.S. Check out the video posted by Martini Max in the comments section of Chris Elliot channeling Marlon Brando performing the lamest banana dance ever on Late Night with David Letterman back in the day.