It is simple. It is fast. It is easy and inexpensive. I find it delicious. It is a staple that has nourished me from childhood into my adult life. It is the simple banana sandwich. I love a banana sandwich.
It takes me back to a day spent in the back yard with my cousins playing in the swimming pool. We’d come inside for lunch, sit on my parents outdated mustard and avocado shag carpet in front of the television and eat our lunch from paper plates. Sandwiches on white bread stained orange from fingers that had touched the cheese-powdered, corn product side item du jour and red from our Kool-Aid smiles.
If you had asked me then, THIS is how I would have told you how to make a perfect banana sandwich, taking care to be colloquially and vernacularly correct:
You git two pieces uh white, Bunny bread, the square kine, not the kind with the rounded-off top. You know, the square kine? Then, you put Dukes MAN-aise on one piece. Then you cut a banana in haf. Leave the peelin’ on th’other haf, cause you might wont it later. Peel your haf and cut it long-ways in three. Put them three slices on the MAN-aise and put the top bread on. Mash it down a little bit and eat it. I really like the crust off, but it takes too long, so I just eat it anyway.
These days, I’m likely to pass on the cheese-powdered corn products, but I’ll take a banana sandwich any way you make it. I still prefer Duke’s mayonnaise to peanut butter, but either one will do. The other morning, as I scrambled for something to grab for breakfast, I found myself stuffing a whole banana into a whole wheat hotdog bun smeared with my ol’ trusty Duke’s. Before I ate it, I laughed and texted my husband a picture. He remarked (in more colorful language) about how peculiar it looked. Mon cher don’t care…I made that odd looking sandwich disappear fast.
Said odd sandwich made me think…is the banana sandwich unique to the South? And, are there other ways to enjoy this delicious sandwich? So, I did a not-so-scientific survey of friends of varied backgrounds to find out the answer to those questions. Here’s what I learned:
Rob M., a Caucasian grew up in New Jersey. His mom was raised in Alabama; his dad in New York. Rob is a general weirdo, as evidenced with his admission to not liking condiments, including mayonnaise and ketchup. See? Weird. He said, “I would never eat that,” referring to banana sandwiches, “but that sounds like something my mom would’ve eaten.” What about your dad? “Oh, heck no.”
I’ve often watched as Big Daddy, the scruffily bearded, Caucasian love of my life who was born and raised in the rural South just like me, sliced his bananas into little circles onto peanut buttered bread and dusted them with black pepper before topping with another slice of bread. The pepper is something he came up with all on his own, not something he learned from family members. Odd.
Valerie P. and her father were born and raised in North Carolina. Her father fought in Vietnam where he met and married her mother. They moved back to the area and married. Everyone in Valerie’s family enjoys banana sandwiches. They cut their bananas in circles and they eat them with peanut butter. She is pretty sure the banana sandwich is something her mom learned to eat when she came to the U.S. Interestingly, Valerie’s Pennsylvanian mother-in-law eats banana sandwiches, except she eats hers with…gasp!…Miracle Whip.
Michael R., African-American, North Carolina-born and raised interjects, “Bananas and mayonnaise!” when I asked if he eats banana sandwiches. He often enjoyed them as a kid, cutting the bananas into circles; he remembered it being a fun challenge to keep “all the little circles on the bread.”
Jaime M., Brooklyn-born to Colombian parents, says he never ate banana sandwiches growing up and doesn’t today, but his Miami-born, wife of Cuban descent loves them…with peanut butter.
Gary F., Caucasian, Midwesterner from Wisconsin does not, has not and will not eat one. He reports to have watched his (Southern) mother-in-law “wilt” on them.
Cedric R. Jamaican born & raised, lived in Germany, currently lives in NC. Jamaicans eat a variation of the banana sandwich. According to Cedric, it is common for Jamaicans to eat sliced bananas (in circles) inside of bulla, a sweet roll. When I asked if they would add condiments, Cedric explained that things like mayonnaise and mustard are luxury items on the island, so that is why Jamaicans often eat things “plain.” I suggested he try a banana sandwich with Duke’s mayonnaise. He said he would, and he has promised to bring me some bulla.