Thursday, May 2, 2013

On Flowers and Fruit

Today I address two topics: the gardenia and the banana.

The gardenia is probably, possibly, my most favorite flower.  This is saying a lot, because I have pretty much never encountered a flower I did not like.  I think it's gardenia season in Hong Kong again, because huge batches of these flowers have started popping up at the flower markets. 

Simply sensational.

Did you know that the gardenia is a relatively late discovery in the flower world?  In 1758, the gardenia was discovered in England and was formally declared a different genus and species than jasmine.  The flower is named after the Scottish doctor and naturalist (men did a lot more back then) Alexander Garden, who was honored with the very first transplanted gardenia bush.  He planted it in his backyard in Charleston, and the gardenia has been a fixture of Southern gentility since.

I don't think it should have taken these world-renowned botanists so long to figure out the difference between a jasmine and a gardenia, but then again, while men may have done more back then, they still didn't do things any better. 

I think it's fascinating that there are thousands of varieties of bananas, and Americans only get access to a mere one! (the Cavendish).  I'm sure if you were to survey Americans from coast to coast and ask them to describe a banana, they would all describe one type of banana (and that would be the Cavendish). 

This is sad, because as far as flavor and texture goes, the Cavendish stacks up very poorly against its brethren.  It is the only banana that so much of the non-banana growing world sees, however, because it is perfect for transport/transporters have perfected the shipping method for this banana.  Just think, if another shipper had perfected the method to transport another variety of banana, your everyday breakfast fruit could be an entirely different size, color, taste and texture.  It could be like my current breakfast banana instead.  Read more here.

When I was in Thailand, I tried at least four or five different varieties of bananas. Hong Kong doesn't have that many varieties, but there is one banana stand that usually sells at least three different kinds. I am in love with these baby bananas (from Thailand). I placed a pen next to it for size contrast, but I'm not sure it's all that helpful.  Basically, these bananas are a mere 3 inches in length. They have a denser consistency, are a darker yellow, and are much, much sweeter than the bananas I ate back home.

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