BANANAS

The smell of very ripe bananas takes me right back to my early childhood – particularly to my grandparents’ home called Stonybrae in Southbroom, a coastal town in KwaZulu Natal. This is because my Grandpa used to store whole bunches of bananas in the cellar beneath their house, which could be accessed from a small wooden door along one side of the house. These bunches varied from being very green through to very ripe.

As if spending time at the seaside was not special enough for this landlubber family, having ready access to so many bananas whenever we wanted one made our holidays seem ‘extra special’. There was only one rule: we had to leave the overripe ones for my Grandpa. He enjoyed eating the really fruity bananas shunned by so many: the ones with their deep yellow skin already covered with brown to black spots; parts of the fruit inside were already of a ‘jammy’ consistency.

I have always enjoyed the taste of bananas and our fruit bowl is seldom without some. During the year I lived in Amanzimtoti, also on the South Coast of KwaZulu Natal, I regularly bought a supply from a vendor who set up his truck close to the beach front. He soon got to recognise me and would have the ‘right’ amount of bananas weighed and ready before I had even asked him.

His prices would escalate – even double – during peak holiday periods to the point when I dithered about purchasing his bananas. Seeing my hesitation, he looked me in the eye and with a perfectly straight face told me in a loud voice (doubtless for the benefit of other customers) what the going price was. When I reluctantly handed over the money, he winked as he gave me the change I had not expected. “Special customer, special price”, he told me quietly. I discovered he employed this strategy with all of his ‘regulars’. Once the holidaymakers had left, his prices would drop to what we were accustomed to.

Of course a song that will always be associated with bananas in my mind is the Banana Boat Song (Day-O) sung so beautifully by Harry Belafonte. As children we would sing this song with gusto, only we thought the words were ‘highly deadly black tarantula’ – it was years later that I realised he was actually singing Hide the deadly black tarantula!

A beautiful bunch of ripe banana

(Daylight come and we want go home)

Hide the deadly black tarantula

(Daylight come and we want go home)

The idea of coming across a black tarantula (always sung with considerable emphasis) has always sent shivers down my spine.

37 thoughts on “BANANAS

  1. Ha, I learned something today. I will have to listen to Harry sing this song again and pay close attention to the black tarantula. I love bananas. Eat one most every day.

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  2. When I was volunteering at a chimp and gorilla sanctuary in Cameroon, the donated bananas were stored in an old shipping container. We were always warned to be careful, because the ethanol produced by the ripening bananas could be strong enough for the unwary to pass out through lack of oxygen :-). Great fun.

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  3. I’ve never heard of storing whole bunches of bananas, but it makes sense that one can buy bulk in areas where they are grown. When we we kids, bananas were highly desirable, but because of our very large family, we were rationed to one a week! Now we enjoy the luxury of one a day in our morning smoothie. That’s progress! ;D

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  4. Another memory: As kids in a pre-primary school in Pretoria West, us kids would sit atop the jungle gym waiting for the Indian fruit and veg. vendor with his cart to pass, we would then sing out:
    Sammy, Sammy whatcha got? Vrot bananas apricot!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I also love overripe bananas 😊. And am a second generation Harry Belafonte fan. We grew up with his songs. Seems everyone had his Live at Carnegie Hall album! 🤣. We also had a Christmas album. Amazingly unique voice.

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  6. Do you have tarantulas in your area? Our friends in Arizona had lots in their neighborhood, and when we visited, their kids took ours out on the street at night to catch the spiders in buckets! Just now I searched online, wondering how the black tarantula compared with whatever was out there on the desert, and I found this:

    “If you’re considering a pet spider, tarantulas should be high on your list. There are more than 800 tarantula species, though some make better pets than others. The best beginner tarantulas are ground dwellers or burrowers. They tend to have docile personalities and are slow movers. With proper care, many of these animals can live around 10 years or more in captivity.”

    I personally have never considered keeping a pet spider, but I was interested to read that “Tarantulas can bite, and their bites are venomous. But for most species, the toxicity is similar to that of a bee sting. However, like a bee sting, some people might experience serious allergic reactions to a tarantula bite.” I did not go out to hunt tarantulas that night, and I don’t think I have ever met one in person, unless it was on the other side of the glass at the zoo. I am fine with that!

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    • This is so interesting! Thank you very much – fortunately we do not get tarantulas here. The size of them puts me off. Mind you, I suppose if you have grown up with them,such as the children you mention, then familiarity would outweigh fear. I too have only looked at them behind glass 🙂

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