Knock Knock. Who’s There? Not Bananas.

There are millions of stories out there on The Dish That Changed Everything; the magical moment when an aspiring gourmand did a 180 and learned to embrace the mushrooms, liver, kale, or other formerly offensive ingredient that had plagued their life until that moment. “I used to hate X,” they write. “And then, one day, I discovered….” Even Mark Bittman follows this well-worn path by admitting his prior distaste of celery in the New York Times Magazine.

This is not one of those stories.

I consider myself an omnivore. After 12 years of semi-vegetarianism (mostly an excuse for my semi-picky eating habits and avoidance of semi-raw meats), I plunged back into the ingredient pool with gusto, slurping down oysters, nibbling up sweetbreads, jonesing for the huitlacoche tacos at La Esquina. I’ll generally try anything once—though I still haven’t managed to get my brain around the eye-dea of eating an eyeball—but I’ll always go out of my way to steer clear of bananas.

photo courtesy Ben Dejesus

Yes! Bananas! Not raw, not caramelized, not fried, not frozen, not with ice cream, not in pudding, not baked into bread, not in dried chip form, not even blended into a smoothie. I can detect it. I know it’s there. My hatred of bananas is a one-two punch of taste and texture. Its flavor disgusts me the way the soapy flavor of cilantro makes others gag. (For the record, I used to hate cilantro, but now I love it. So there.) And the way its pasty texture coats the mouth makes me feel like I’m suffocating while eating a piece of starchy tropical Styrofoam.

On a lesser scale, I feel the same way about eggplant. The aubergines get a partial pass because their taste isn’t as repellent (in fact, they don’t really have a taste at all; like tofu, they soak up other flavors) but when cooked, their mushy texture leaves me shuddering. One of the worst elements of vegetarianism, for me, was restaurants’ default use of grilled eggplant as the meat-free entree on so many menus. Talk about a rock and a hard place. Or a rock and an oily, spongy place.

Along with pumpkin pie (easy to avoid out of season), there aren’t many other ingredients with such an unpalatable taste/texture combination that inspires an almost irrational revulsion within. There are a few whose flavors I’ll cross the street to avoid, though. In the interest of getting it all off my chest, do you know what I hate? I hate: salmon, cooked green peppers, curry powder and anything with large quantities of cumin, raisins unless they’re in raisin bran, and most sprouts.

Most of the time, I can find a way to work around my dislike of these things—smoked salmon, for example, is a glorious way to make lemonade out of fishy lemons, and green peppers are pretty easy to get over unless you’ve plonked them onto my pizza. But I just can’t with bananas. They permeate. They infect my nostrils with their sickly smell. I know you’ll try to be well-meaning and make recommendations for recipes, asking “well, have you ever tried bananas this way?” It won’t work.

I hope they suffocate in there

So please, stop your howls of protest, your exhortations to “just try it—maybe your tastes have changed!’ I’m not here to make friends with bananas. We’ve loathed each other since the day we met, and as much as I’d like to write a story a year from now talking about the magical moment when the banana ceased to be my nemesis and instead became my most beloved craving, it’s just not meant to be. More for you!

However, I’m happy to eat your unwanted olives, anchovies, mushrooms, tuna, pickles, squid, fish sauce, lardo, and tapioca. Why anyone doesn’t want to eat that stuff is beyond me.

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  1. Wow – bananas, eggplant and PUMPKIN PIE under attack. I don’t know what to say. I will choose not to try to convince you as long as you never EVER make me eat sweetbreads. Or eyeballs for that matter…

  2. You know I’m right there with you on the pumpkin pie. Bananas? Only in their green form. The minute they start to smell sickly sweet my nose starts to involuntarily curl. Now cilantro is where we differ….how anyone eats The Devil Weed is beyond me.

  3. I get it. I respect it. I’m there with you even on the green peppers. (I hate how every restaurant or microwave food maker seems to throw bell peppers in EVERYTHING as a filler!) You lost me at pumpkin pie and cumin though. Camino is my go-to spice. It tastes like home to me. Remind me not to make you carne guisada!

  4. I feel the same way about cucumbers. They permeate. I can taste if one has dropped in my salad and was picked off. I can do pickles, but the thought of a cucumber slaw or fresh cucumber salad makes me feel like gagging.

  5. I wish I could be as gracious as Amber. I DON’T get it, but I do respect it.

    Excuse me while I go try to imagine a world without chocolate-chip studded warm banana bread. *Sniff*

  6. More nanners for me!!!

    I’m totally with you on the raisins, though. I have grudgingly learned to eat eggplants… sometimes. But there’s no excuse for a lazy “vegetarian option”.

    I hate stewed tomatoes.

    1. Dear sister, I still haven’t quite forgiven you for feeding me that slice of banana years ago as “payment” for singing The Kix Song. I have forgotten the song, but the memory of the banana remains.

  7. Sorry to hear you have such an aversion to bananas. I have been using them a lot in smoothies. I’m with you on eyeballs though. Had them served to me in France. Well, the eyeball was in the fish I was served and I was supposed to eat it all, except the bones. I also never could eat brains. Do you eat brains???

  8. You and your vehement hatred of bananas, hehe! I think everyone has something they’d really rather avoid if at all possible, though. And, I totally agree on the cooked green peppers – *especially* on pizza, blech. I much prefer them raw in all their glory. :-)

    1. Wow, all the green pepper haters coming out of the woodwork! Is this why they’re so much cheaper than the multicolored versions at the market? The growers are trying to offload their product?

  9. Funny, people’s food aversions. Get where you’re coming from on the banana front, though they’re one of my go-to fruits. But green peppers on pizza: Sing it sister.

  10. Bell peppers of any color are not fit for human consumption. There is something in there that turns my head inside out. Yuck.

    Give me any pepper with heat and now we have a pepper to devour.

    Just found your blog. Will subscribe today. Thanks!

  11. I too hated the taste and the texture of bananas until recently. Mine was more about the texture, I think, as I could still choke down banana bread. The worst is how after you bite it the edge feels slimy but the other part is chalky and pasty… Gross to think about even now. I got over it by having a baby who loves them and I learned (by eating one) that they somehow alleviate stress headaches. I think of them as ‘medicine’ now and eat at least one everyday. But, I totally get where you’re coming from.

  12. For what it’s worth I also hate cilantro. 1/8 of what people normally use is ok, but any more and that’s the only thing I can taste.

  13. I have been in relationship testing arguments with men over my disdain for bananas and their overpowering smell and flavor. Agreed 100%!

  14. One reason for my aversion to bananas is the potassium myth. There are other foods that contain more poitassium with less sugar and calories but bananas are touted as the ultimate source of potassium. I suspect the potassium myth was created by some banana related company like Dole or Chiquita to sell more bananas by making them seem like a super nutritious wonder fruit.

  15. I thought I was the only fusspot who wouldn’t eat a banana since BIRTH. I have always loathed them the same way I loathe Twinkies. Bananas taste man-made to me like they aren’t a real food. There is something horribly artificial about the flavor.

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