Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bananas and Other Samples

One of the best things about having a farm is being able to plant fun things all around you. We planted fruit trees: apple, peach, guava, pomegranate, ishta, oranges, lemons, tangerines, and bananas, as well as very playful crops like sugar cane. The cane is tall now and visitors over the Feast that begins on Tuesday will get to cut stalks down and chew the sweet juice out. What's left over is more than appreciated by the horses, donkeys and goats.

Banana trees were some of the first things planted here and I have a couple of varieties. One type is the larger banana that is familiar in Europe or the US, but my favourite is the smaller type, what my kids used to call "banana samples". These tiny bananas are only a couple of bites but the flavour is wonderful and they don't go immediately to banana mush as they ripen. When I began visting Egypt in the late 70's, one of the first things to be imported here was a total mystery to me because they were importing Dole bananas...big tasteless yellow things in a country where the tiny bananas were so good. My husband's family learned very quickly that I was not at all impressed with imported bananas. These were simply not in the same class as the sweet little local bananas like the stalk being inspected in the photo by some of the dogs who were hoping for bones.

Now as we prepare for about four days of complete idleness (well, maybe not depending on how many people decide to take advantage of the holidays to stay and play in Cairo possibly at the farm rather than going to the's still hot here) I've taken more time on my collection of Egypt blogs and would suggest that they are a marvelous way to realise the richness of the experience here. I've found blogs from students here in Arabic courses, professors at the American University, housewives caring for young and not so young children while husbands pursue their careers, and locals of all flavours. They talk about so many aspects of life here, both good and bad, that a wander through the blogs will give you a wonderful tour. I know that elsewhere the Feast is not an occasion of idleness, but maybe during low points in news programs or evening TV you might pick one or two to try out. These samples of Egyptian life are just as tempting and tasty as our tiny bananas.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani