Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Banana Bread Chronicles

I LOVE my mom’s banana bread recipe. As a kid, I’d eat three or four pieces at a time, and there was almost always a loaf in the house. It’s so moist and heavy, the kind of density that gives you instant indigestion if you eat it too fast – and with this recipe, inhaling it is the only way.

I now make it myself occasionally, but when my mom makes it these days, I’m suspicious of it. The recipe hasn’t changed, but the end result varies depending on her moods and wits. My mom is very scatterbrained, which has gotten worse with age. The first indication that this trait had affected my beloved banana bread was when I was in high school. One day after school I came home and helped myself to a slice or two. I bit down hard into something rock solid. After checking for all my teeth, I found a large white object that resembled a human bone the size of a finger. When my mom got home, I asked her what it was.

“I’ve been looking for that!” she said.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s part of the handle to one of the tea cups. It fell off the shelf and broke while I was making banana bread.”

My mom’s kitchen is sometimes a fire hazard and not just because it contains an oven or even because she occasionally leaves a gas burner on overnight. My mother hoards so much clutter that things are always falling out of cabinets or off shelves. In college, I cleaned out the medicine cabinet and found medication that was prescribed before I was born and a contraceptive that had been off the market for years. With so much clutter, it becomes hard for her to clean or even see dirt in the house anymore. Which brings me to my next banana bread story. . .

One day I was devouring a slice from one of two loaves my mom had made when she asked how it was.


“I won’t tell you what happened to it.”

You can never say that to someone especially while they are still eating and not expect to be subjected to an inquisition.

“What do you mean? Tell me.”

“I dropped it on the floor, but it was probably the other loaf.”

When my mom gets caught, she likes to talk herself in circles or change her story rather than fess up.

“How do you know it was the other loaf?”

“Don’t worry, it was. I’ll eat that loaf.”

“Mom! What do you mean you dropped it on the floor? The whole pan? After it came out of the oven?”

“Before I baked it.”

“But that’s . . . in liquid form. How did you still have any batter left to use?”

“I scooped it up.”

“What?! With what?”

“My hands. I just pushed it all back in the bowl.”

“From the floor?!”

I looked at the half eaten piece of bread in my hand.

“No, no. Don’t worry. It wasn’t that loaf,” she said.

“How do you know?”

“It wasn’t. The other loaf is in the kitchen. It wasn’t that one. Don’t worry aboooouuuuuutt it.” she whined.

And this is why I make my own banana bread . . .

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