Where are the Mauritian bananas?
All week long, the bananas I’ve found at the local market are not, most definitely, the Mauritian bananas that I so love.
Did the recent surge in holidays deplete the stock? Are the hotels and resorts getting first pick? Or are they now being exported as exotic expensive fruits to Europe?
I would pay more for a genuine Mauritian banana if I lived in Europe and had evidence that it was, in fact, grown in Mauritius. They really are that good. And yes, I know I’ve gone a little banana-nutty, but they have become a pretty important staple in my diet.
Mauritian bananas are not only full of true banana flavor, but when they ripen they don’t get super squishy right away. They only get better. The peel could be brown and muddled with spots, but when opened, the fruit inside is perfectly delicious.
The bananas I’m finding now just don’t taste as good and they seem to go bad more quickly. I must be banana spoiled, but I do not like these new bananas.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables not only am I eating much more now than when I lived in the States, but I think I’ve developed a ‘spotter’s eye’. Or maybe because I’m eating a diet that is almost completely filled with non-processed food, my taste palate has changed.
Whatever it is, I say ‘boo’ to these new blah bananas.
Shopping for fruit and vegetables at grocery markets in America, I had endless choices and everything always looked so shiny and perfect. Too perfect. With nothing less than perfect to compare all that other produce perfection against, I think I just started to think that all fruit and vegetables should look like plastic.
But, the problem is that when produce looks so much like plastic, it kind of tastes like plastic. There’s no flavor. It’s like it’s all been watered down or sucked out during the manufacturing, I mean, growing process.
And yes (I rant on), I’ve become a little obsessed with food supply, food safety and food processing, manufacturing and storage methods since moving here. But, it can’t be helped. I have lived and worked it there and I have lived and worked it here. How can I not compare?
Many of the tomatoes sold here in the larger markets are obviously grown using commercial hydroponic techniques. They are just too perfect. Every one is the same size and each one has the same little, green stem with the same number of green points. None of them are bruised nor do they have any differences in color or spots.
In other words, they look like plastic, taste like water (shudder) and I refuse to buy them. Give me a lumpy, bumpy multi-colored tomato. One that I can bring up to my nose and smell earth and tomato. Taste, not appearance, is what I want.
I don’t want to use them to decorate my home, I want to eat them.
Basically, if it looks too perfect here, it’s almost certainly an import; and the bananas here suddenly look way too perfect so I’m guessing they’ve been imported.
Lots of the fruit and vegetables, if not grown here, are imported from South Africa. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. But, I’ve also seen apples with Chinese stickers on them and dates and tiny expensive potatoes coming from the Middle East.
I guess I’ve come to like my fruits and veggies banged up a bit – not rotten, just real looking. I like it when the zucchini has tons of different shapes and sizes to choose from and I dig it when the eggplant has a few brown spots because to me this means it was grown in the ground and not in a factory.
I’m not foolish enough to believe that all the farmers here grow everything organically. For some odd reason I have heard more than one tourist speaking in the produce section about how everything here is grown organic.
I don’t think so. If every local farmer grew things organically here, there wouldn’t be enough fruits and veggies to sell at the markets and shops. They couldn’t make a living if half of their crops were overcome and destroyed with pests.
When you drive past the little towns and fields and you see a bunch of people with plastic jugs on their backs spraying the plants with masks on, you can bet it is industrial pesticide.
The masks are not some sort of sun-shielding device.
There’s been chatter about a potential new official organic certification being introduced in Mauritius, and I would welcome it gladly. However, I would need to be absolutely certain that the fruit and vegetables I was purchasing were in fact 100% organically farmed and that would take a very organized regulation and control system that was constant, effective and efficient.
I would also pay more for 100% organic food here, but again, only if I knew – without a doubt – that it met all the qualifications to be labeled as such.
I used to shop at organic farmer’s markets in the summer months back in Minnesota and Chicago and I never felt cheated by paying more for the produce. If I could taste and see the difference in quality, I felt that it was worth the extra cost.
And because I come from a land of farms and farmers, I know that tiny strawberries that are just left to grow and ripen in the sun without being hosed down with chemicals, probably won’t produce as many strawberries that can be sold in the markets. This is also why I would pay more.
I think the French are slowly working their food magic on me because ‘taste’ has suddenly entered my life in such a big way. I’ll continue to let this magic work its spell because it’s a much more enjoyable way to experience food.
Viva la taste! Bring back the bananas!