Early one Saturday morning, during the summer before my bubbe started fourth grade, her father woke her up to attend a sit-in at the lunch counter at the local Woolworth’s Department store. They were supporting the students participating in the Greensboro sit-ins in protest of Woolworth’s racial segregation policies. They sat at the counter all day long. My eight-year-old grandmother, too short for her feet to touch the ground, swung her feet back and forth, gazing at the pictures that decorated the restaurant’s walls to keep herself busy. In a Lucite frame hung what she thought looked like heaven in a bowl…A banana split: a banana, three scoops of ice cream, three kinds of sauce, and lots of whipped cream topped with three bright red cherries. She spun around on her stool for hours, and repeatedly pointed at the picture asking her father if she could have one. Every time she asked, he said no and told her that she wasn’t allowed to have one until everyone in America could too. Even though she could have enjoyed this simple treat, signs across the country reading “whites only” prevented African Americans from doing so — among so many other things. This day made an impression on my grandmother and every time she feels our country makes a step in the right direction she has a celebratory banana split. Although she has only had two in her life, ever since that day, banana splits became a symbol for equality in our family. So, in celebration of MLK Jr. Day and the wonderful fact that nobody in our country is denied from their God-given right to enjoy banana splits, here is my bubbe’s famous recipe.
Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Dairy (can be made with soy ice cream and nondairy whipped cream)
1/2 cup scoop vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup scoop chocolate ice cream
1/2 cup scoop strawberry ice cream
1 large ripe banana
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (or Hot Fudge)
2 tablespoons strawberry ice cream topping (or fresh strawberries)
2 tablespoons crushed pineapple
3 maraschino cherries
Line up ice cream scoops in an oval deep dish or a banana boat. Cut off the ends of the banana while still in the peel. Slice in half long ways. Remove peel and place on each side of the ice cream. Top the vanilla ice cream with the pineapple, the chocolate with the chocolate syrup and the strawberry with the strawberry sauce. Top each scoop with whipped cream and cherries.
Worldwide, there is no sharp distinction between “bananas” and “plantains”. Especially in the Americas and Europe, “banana” usually refers to soft, sweet, dessert bananas, particularly those of the Cavendish group, which are the main exports from banana-growing countries. By contrast, Musa cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called “plantains”. In other regions, such as Southeast Asia, many more kinds of banana are grown and eaten, so the simple two-fold distinction is not useful and is not made in local languages.:
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