Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Case of the Pink Bananas

One thing that makes shopping for bananas in a supermarket, or anywhere else, in Brazil is that from day to day one really doesn't know what one is going to find. Having come from North America, where all the bananas are either Chiquita or Dole, and where they're all pretty much the same - issues of relative ripeness aside - it was quite a shock to see how bananas are sold in Brazil.

First, there are a TON of bananas for sale in most supermarkets. Statistically, the banana is the most commonly consumed fruit in Brazil. This is due to its ubiquity and its relative cheapness. Oh, and maybe due to the fact that Brazilians love bananas, too. It's not uncommon to see a whole section of the supermarket devoted to selling bananas, or at minimum several large bins in the produce section.

Second, you never know what kind of banana you'll find at the market. Depending on season and availability you might find only green, green bananas one day, and ripe, almost over-ripe another. Or on Monday all the bananas will be short, stubby, rounded and fat, like baby fingers, and when you return on Wednesday, they'll all be a foot long, three sided and with a wicked curve. Sometimes you'll get your bananas home and find out that the skin is half and inch thick; the next time it'll be as thin as paper. You learn to adapt, needless to say, and accept what's on offer. It's almost always good.

One thing that had never seemed to change, up to this week anyway, was the color of the flesh. It was always that creamy light, light yellow that we're used to seeing. Sometimes more yellow, sometimes almost white, but it was the shade that varied not the hue. But this week I bought a bunch of bananas that although they looked normal on the outside were completely different on the inside from any bananas I'd ever seen. They were a rosy peach color, nearly a pink. A stunningly beautiful color, subtle and soft - it would be a perfect color to paint a little girl's bedroom.

I took some photos of one of the bananas just after I cut it open - here are the results. The photos are illustrative only, as the color really was more vibrant than appears in these shots.

I'm curious if any of Flavor of Brazil's readers have run into bananas of this color before. I have no idea what cultivar or variety they are, as there's no labelling information at all at my local supermarket.

Incidentally, these bananas were not only beautiful, they were delicious. The taste was half-way between a banana and a plantain and less sweet than many Brazilian bananas. The texture was firm, even though they were completely ripe - there was no mushiness at all.

Now my only problem is to figure out how I'll ever find another pink banana. I'll just have to pray for luck, I guess.


  1. Aren't they "banana-da-terra"?.

    I was looking on internet and I've found this description:

    banana-da-terra (banana-chifre-de-boi, banana-comprida ou pacovan) - são as maiores bananas conhecidas, chegando a pesar 500 g cada fruta e a ter comprimento de 30 cm. É achatada num dos lados, tem casca amarelo-escura, com grandes manchas pretas quando maduras, e polpa bem consistente, de cor rosada e textura macia e compacta, sendo mais rica em amido do que açúcar, o que a torna ideal para cozinhar, assar ou fritar.

  2. Thanks Karina - I think it must be some sore of banana-da-terra too, although normally those must be cooked to become edible and these were delicious eaten raw like a normal fruit banana. Maybe there were some sort of hybrid between a banana-da-terra (or plantain as they're known in English) and an eating banana.