Banana Nut Bread
When my mother announced that she was leaving Poland with my father, back to his native country - Ecuador, my grandmother thought she would never see her again. It was 1981. She once told me that between tears and wails she managed to remember that Ecuador had large oil reserves and was a large banana producer. A seemingly simple woman, with only basic education, my grandmother was a woman of great intelligence and a voracious reader. On one occasion, a magazine with an article about that country in South America had landed into her hands.
These were times in which people wrote letters and both did so religiously, filling sheets and sheets with all kinds of details – good ones, of course, bad things should rarely be admitted and exposed – of their daily lives in Ambato (later Quito) and in Zawiercie. From time to time, my grandmother would remove a sticker from the skin of a banana on which it was printed that the fruit was a 'product of Ecuador' and adhered it to one of her letters. Spending her hard-saved zlotys on such a luxury was the way she found to let my mother know that she thought of her. They met again several times over the years, but this was a habit that lasted until the last days my grandmother´s mind retained its sharpness and her legs obeyed her and endured the journey to the store. She never bought bananas that came from anywhere else.
As a girl, I never really liked bananas. Growing up surrounded by them, they were the last thing I craved. And I don't remember the precise moment in which I first had banana nut cake, but I know that I never thought that a fruit, so boring to me, could taste so good, especially, knowing that the best result is obtained by using the ugliest bananas, those ripe, of an intense yellow with lots and lots of dark brown spots.
Over the years and, in different latitudes, I have wanted to bake it once in a while and, when I go in search of the fruit to the market, I always pay attention to the sticker. Of course, the freckled bananas that were resting yesterday by the window of my kitchen were from Ecuador and, it was clear what their destiny was going to be. Today in the morning, while biting a piece of cake I read that January 23 is the International Day of Banana Bread and Nuts; who would have thought?