All bananas, all the time

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007 | All Things, Books

At DiSalvio Playground on Spring and Mulberry:


Housing Works Bookstore and Café hosted the release party for the Summer 2007 issue of Alimentum, a New York-based literary magazine focused exclusively on food and eating. 32 writers and poets contributed to this fourth issue, which featured a special section devoted entirely to bananas.

Housing Works Bookstore bar

Alimentum publisher Paulette Licitra, who launched the journal with her husband Peter Selgin, was at the event to introduce the readings by tonight’s featured writers: Joanne Jacobson, Diana Abu-Jabar, Robin Hirsch and Gary Allen.

I most enjoyed Abu-Jabar’s story: a selection from her third work, The Language of Baklava, a culinary memoir of growing up in a bi-cultural Jordanian-American household — vignettes interspersed with recipes rich in memory. Through the frustrations and challenges Abu-Jabar encounters while navigating the murky waters of cultural identity, one constant remains: her love and appreciation for food. The format reminded me a bit of one of my favorite food story collections, Home Cooking, by the dear, departed Laurie Colwin.

Hirsch, who is part-owner of the Cornelia Street Café, read a story of restaurateur “Mr. S” who falls in love with his dishwasher — an excerpt presumably taken from the current issue of Alimentum, and not from Hirsch’s own memoir, Last Dance at the Hotel Kempinski.

Allen, educator, author and food history editor for Leite’s Culinaria, closed out the reading program with an amusing banana-themed story about his travels through the tropics, proving that there can be too much of a good thing. It was a perfect segue into the reception, featuring – what else? – banana splits.

Housing Works banana splits

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There are 7 Comments ... All bananas, all the time

June 29, 2007

Remember eastern europe and ABATT? All Bananas All The Time? They had an inordinate love of bananas we couldn’t figure out? Then years later I read a WSJ article about how they associated bananas with the U.S. and it was a status symbol. ha.

June 29, 2007

Of course: the origins of “ABATT”! I have very fond (banana-tinged) memories of that trip. Maybe I should have submitted a piece for consideration to the magazine.
Though I still can’t figure out why bananas were associated with the United States…

June 29, 2007

Maybe the soldiers that liberated them fed them bananas? Though bananas do not travel well. There’s a saying in the trade, sell it or smell it.

June 29, 2007

“Sell it or smell it” — ha! All those produce stands in Chinatown must operate on this mantra. I’ve seen bananas there, 3 lbs for $1. But what would I do with 3 pounds of bananas?

June 29, 2007

Or recall when we thought we were buying a head of lettuce for a buck and they meant four heads of lettuce for a buck? Crazy!
Btw, the banana crop grows back every year so when there’s a surplus sometimes the producers will bury the bananas as the price is so cheap that it’s more expensive to ship the product. The freight could be multiples of the cost of they’d get for the produce. Nuts!

June 30, 2007

Don’t you mean to say, “that’s bananas”…

July 6, 2007

I’m a fool. I only just now saw that you titled this entry ‘all bananas all the time’!

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