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March 07, 2002
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Riddle Me This

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ODE TO A BANANA

Here’s some food for thought and here’s a riddle for you:

I’m the vegetable…or am I a fruit?…that the serpent who tempted Eve supposedly hid among. What I really am the world’s largest herb, and I didn’t become popular in America until after world war one. I give lie to the dictum that all staple foods of the world are either cereals or root crops, and the first European to eat one of me was probably Napoleon, even though the only European country that grows me is Iceland (on soil heated by geysers of all things…..and the first European to lay eyes on me…a guy with the unappetizing name of Antonio Pigafetta, some Eyetalian guy who hitched a ride on Magellan’s voyage, thought I was a giant fig…still with me? Well I’m high in phosphorus and potassium, and two of my most delectable varieties are the rare red and dwarf, (only found in the Canary Islands). One of my strains is sweet and the other starchy, and I’m only cultivated with the help of humans…who got rid of my seeds and rendered me sterile, to make me oh so much more appetizing, especially when strained for children, who become children because their parents weren’t…sterile that is…meaning I can only be propogated now with human assistance. I’m African in origin, and whether split souffleed, baked, pied, or fostered, I always take the cake…

Who am I??? Well if you guessed the banana, you’d be right…and if you’re looking for some of the best desserts in town featuring this delectable herb, I’d start at Emeril’s in the MGM, where his super-high cream pie which will renew your interest in this American classic. From there I command you to Commander’s Palace, where they foster new appreciation for bananas that way…and if you’re still feeling silly, I’d truck on over to Cili and dive into an ethereal custard floating in a teeny tiny pie shell in a post-modern re-definition of what you used to think was a pie. Three restaurants, three desserts, in three days…yes it was my very own personal bananarama…and it was tres delish…

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