Friday, August 1, 2014

Gone Bananas

I was eating lunch with some coworkers, sitting at the table, cracking jokes, talking about work and life and nothing in general.  It was the usual lunch time banter, meant to relax and entertain us until it was time to head back to work.  Same old, same old...right up until I reached for my banana and started to peel it.

That's when my colleague--who I shall refer to as Coll--suddenly stopped telling us the story of the fish he caught (and lost) last weekend; his eyes got big and he exclaimed, "Dude!  You are freaking Tarzan!"

I was confused, and so were my other two coworkers, at Coll's sudden outburst.  But Coll continued, "You, man!"

He was addressing me, which only confused me even more, so I asked, "What?"

"You!", he declared, "You peel your banana the wrong way!"

Once again, I asked, "What?"

"You peel your banana the wrong way!", he insisted.

At this point, I looked at Coll like he'd done lost his damned mind.  My other two coworkers were also giving Coll the same look.  But Coll explained, "You peeled your banana from the top, instead of the bottom, where the stem is.  You're suppose to peel a banana from the stem end!"

Okay, now I know he's just crazy.  The other two coworkers were now looking at the banana in my hand.  I told Coll, "Dude, there's no right or wrong way to peel a banana.  Just as long as you get the skin off and get to eat the banana, it doesn't really matter which end you peel first."

But Coll insisted, "No, you're supposed to peel the stem end first, jungle boy.  That's why there's a stem!"

"Says who?", I asked, "Who decided that the stem end was the right way to peel a damned banana?"

"It's just the way it's done," said Coll, as if that would settle the matter.

"No, that's not just the way it's done," I replied, "There are many ways to peel a banana.  I just peel off whatever end is easier to remove."

"The stem end is the easiest end to remove!", insisted Coll.

"No, it's not," I told him, "It's easier to just pinch the top end open, then start peeling from the top to the the stem end.  The stem is just there to hold the banana to the rest of the bunch.  And sometimes, the stem is lost when pulling off the banana from the bunch, and when that happens, it'll be easier to peel the skin off from that end since the skin will be broken there.  Anyway, when you pinch and peel from the top, you don't get those annoying skin strings that come from peeling the stem end first."

"And how do you know that?", Coll challenged.

So I answered, "Because we grew bananas on the farm when I was growing up.  All kinds of bananas--big, small, medium and in a range of colors from green to orange to yellow and even red.  And I've peeled and ate them all in many different ways, and pinching the top end to start peeling is the easiest way to skin a ripe banana.  So yeah, I know a little something about bananas."

Coworker number three interjected his support of my argument by revealing, "When I was in the jungles of Central and South America, I saw how the monkeys peeled their bananas.  And they always peeled from the top end first."

There, I thought.  That settles that stupid argument.  But I was wrong. 

After lunch, we returned to work, where Coll discussed with the others what had gone down and ignited the great 'Right way to peel a banana' office debate that took up all afternoon and was not settled when it was time to clock out.

I didn't know whether to be amazed or disturbed that my coworkers seemed more fired up about the right way to peel a banana than they were about doing their work.  Even several supervisors and a manager got involved in the crazy banana peeling debate.  A few times, the debaters got so animated in their arguments, waving their hands wildly and being loud that I actually thought I was in the jungle looking at a bunch of screeching, hooting monkeys!  Everyone in the office had gone bananas!  B-a-n-a-n-a-s!

We didn't reach a consensus at the end of the day.  Daylight come and me wanna go home.  A few people sided with Coll, that peeling a banana stem end first is the right way.  Some sided with me that pinching and peeling the top end first was the simplest way to skin the banana.  And a few others also shared my point that it didn't really matter which end you start peeling, as long the skin is removed and you can eat your banana.

I've never really given much though to the merits of peeling a banana.  Really, all I'm focused on is removing the skin so I can eat the sweet, delicious banana.  But now I'm curious.  How do you peel your banana?  And why do you peel it that way?  And other than eating it by itself, what's your favorite way to use your banana?  Mine is to mash up the really ripe ones and adding them to a pancake batter to make banana pancakes.  What about you?


  1. I am also not aware of the right/wrong end banana controversy. Sort of like the over/under toilet paper roll debate?

    Personally, I start at whichever end is easiest to pinch open the skin and peel away. Straight-up, shaken not stirred.

  2. Whatever you do with your banana is fine by me, Mr Swings, I'm sure you are capable of getting the desired result whatever way you choose to undress it.
    I like my bananas straight up.

  3. P.S I reckon that if everybody stopped what they were doing and spent the next three hours discussing bananas, then the world would be a better place.

  4. yikes! i've been doing it wrong the whole time! thanks, sweet pea! banana pudding is my favorite, but then, i do live in the south! xoxoxox

  5. LX, I wasn't aware of the banana peeling controversy either until the incident at lunch, where I was accused of improper peeling of a banana.

    But I'm with you, whichever end of the banana is the easiest to open is the best end to start peeling.

    Scarlet, Some people like like to grab their bananas and are rough with them; that just bruises the banana and causes damage. I like to handle mine with care and treated it with the proper attention and respect it deserves. That way, I get more joy out of it, and the people I share my banana with appreciate a good quality banana.

    And yes, the world would be a much better place if we all stopped for a few hours to discuss the many facets of the banana.

    Savannah, I also love banana pudding! It's right up there with pistachio pudding for me. I'd take either of them over chocolate any day.

    And I really don't think there's a wrong way to peel a banana. As long you can remove the skin and get to the delicious sweet fruit, then that's all that matters. It's a case of the tasty end justifies the means.

  6. LX, How about that? Great link, thanks! Monkeys really are smart! Maybe even smarter than some of us humans.

  7. Here in britland, we peel bananas from the stem. Which I only realised upon learning they peel from the other end in Hungary.

    They justification is that the stem is a handle for holding. That, combined with your observation about skin stings makes me realise that, if there's a correct way, yours is it.

    Yet somehow I know that I'll keep doing it my way. Either habbit is stronger than reason...or I don't eat so many bananas that convenience becomes an issue.

    The only other thing I know about banana skins: They are not in fact notably slippery. If they were, the man I once knew who liked to masturbate using oranges...would have used bananas instead.

  8. Kapi, How about that? It's amazing the things we learn when we travel or meet new cultures. I do agree with the Hungarians that the stem end does make a nice handle and those skin strings are just annoying.

    As for the oranges fellow, wow, a man whose fruit smells like fruit! But orange peels sting! I hope he doesn't have any raw or cracked areas he rubs the oranges on, because that'll hurt a lot! He must've have a very hard (good?) time walking by the citrus stand!

  9. I rarely eat bananas and wasn't aware of the "right/wrong" debate either. When I do eat them, I peel from the stem end.
    However, not to confuse things even further, I call the stem end of the banana the top and the flower end the bottom.

  10. IDV, Yes, I wasn't aware of the banana peeling debate either until I was singled out at lunch, and I eat bananas frequent enough, so this debate certainly surprised me as it was the first time I've ever heard of it.

    You lend weight to Kapi's point that Brits do peel from the stem end. And that is interesting that you call the stem end the top and the flower end the bottom. Of course, when the banana is hanging off the banana tree, the stem end holding the banana to the tree is higher than the flower end that curves down towards the bottom.

  11. Hm. I have never tried to peel a banana from the non-stem end. Will have to give it a try! I hate all those strings and if that is a way to not get them, I am all for it. If the stem doesn't snap easily, I have always taken a knife and made a little cut to get it started so I don't squish the banana. The non-stem end sounds so much easier! Not sure why I never thought to try that... Thanks, Eros! You have educated me today. :-)

  12. Here's some evidence that the flower end really is the bottom.

  13. Okay, so I have been peeling bananas from the flower end and while they are much easier to get started, I still find I get the strings. So either way works, I guess.

  14. Same here... still getting the strings.

  15. Ponita, I've always found the non-stem end the easiest to peel, especially with the really ripe bananas, my favorite. And those strings are annoying!

    One my brothers used to take a knife and just slit the skin away, from end to end, then slide the banana out. Works great for the firm bananas, but not so much with the really ripe, almost mushy ones.

    IDV, The Devil is in the details! The banana bottom is just as tasty as the rest of it :)

    Ponita and Scarlet, What I find most useful in keeping the strings away is to pinch the top ends til it splits cleanly all the way through (if you have long nails, it helps cut through the pinched end cleanly). Then carefully try to peel off one whole side, half of the skin, slowly downwards while gently gripping the top end of the peel between the fingers to make sure all the strings are sticking to the skin, not the banana;, then remove the other half the same way, gently downwards, all while pinching the top of the peel to make sure the skins stick to the peel, not the banana.

    Remember, just pinch and peel downwards slowly, gently--NOT upwards, outwards, then downwards--that causes the skins to break from the peel and fall on the banana. So basically, I try to end up with only two halves peeled, instead of four or more sides peeled down.

    But even if I end up splitting the peel four-ways, I find that gently pinching the top and slowly peeling it down keeps the strings off the banana, and the strings stick to the peel instead.

  16. Well... I am speechless. I had to give up reading your last comment half way through to have a cold shower.

  17. Scarlet, A cold shower is a perfect way to cool down when things heat up.