Did you think this post would be about the Bell Tower or Barrack Street? Perhaps you were thinking about the beach or the bush? I even considered visiting a friend in Bassendean, just to have something to write about. All of these would be good choices. However, one thing far more ubiquitous to Perth defines this city. The humble banana bread.
Every good café in Perth has three must-have items on its cake shelf – carrot cake, caramel slices and banana bread. This is a conundrum because, as every good Australian knows, Perth is not the banana capital of the country. Carrots, yes, but bananas, no. That honour goes to Queensland, which produces over 90% of the nation’s bananas. I believe Perth is the capital that eats them.
“Our banana bread comes all the way from Melbourne,” confided one café owner. “It’s good, isn’t it?”
Yes, if you’re feeding a hungry five-year-old. Although I’m not sure why Victorian banana bread should be extra special. Bananas do grow in Western Australia in Carnarvon and Kununurra, the moister and warmer parts of the state’s northwest.
Banana trees are a rare sight further south in Perth’s back gardens, although quite common in southern India where I was born. Street vendors sell bananas out of baskets. Plantations export them by the truckload. Perth’s luxury slice is the poor man’s lunch in Palayamkottai.
I’ve gone from café to café in search of the best banana bread the city has to offer. There’s so much on offer – paleo-style, with grated coconut, warmed up or toasted, with butter and without, and even gluten-free. But the quest has been interrupted by a pandemic and so I’ve hit the recipe books to try and make my own. So many recipes to choose from.
My first attempt falls flat. Literally. Too much banana? Not enough whisking and folding? It turns out I’ve read the measurements wrong. After three attempts, I finally find a recipe and a banana bread I feel proud of. I have found a solution to all my ripe banana wastage.
There is no more honest critic than a five-year-old.
“So which banana bread did you like?” I ask my son anxiously. “This week’s or last week’s? With chocolate chips or without?”
“I like all your banana bread,” he replies, liberally pouring custard on this week’s offering.
“Oh, okay,” I say, feeling pleased.
“Next time we go to the café, can we have carrot cake?”
The connoisseur has spoken. The end.
It’s been a long while since my last post, so if you’re still following my blog and reading this – thank you! The original “B for banana bread” died a sudden death with my laptop and the blog languished while I worked on other bits of writing. I hope to have the next post…hmm…I hope to keep posting. Sometime. No promises 😀