Is this the banana your grandchildren will eat?

Over the weekend, I stumbled over a great Damn Interesting post about the history and future of the banana. Some of you already know the basic story here: Bananas, as we know them, cannot reproduce. The ones we eat are sterile hybrids. Like mules. The only way that there are more bananas is that humans take offshoots from the stems of existing banana trees, transplant them, and allow them to grow into a tree of their own. It's basically a cheap, low-tech version of cloning, and it has a long history in agriculture. (Note: This would be why Christian evangelist Ray Comfort's video on bananas has become a classic Internet LOL. In the video, Comfort presents the banana—particularly its seedless flesh, handy shape, and easy-access peel&mash;as a testament to the perfection of supernatural design ... completely ignoring the fact that all those things are the result of human-directed agricultural selection.)

The downside to this is that clones are, shall we say, not terribly genetically diverse. Turns out, a lack of genetic diversity is a great way to make yourself vulnerable to disease. Back in the 1950s, a fungus all but wiped out a variety of banana called the Gros Michael. Up until then, the Gros Michel had been the top-selling banana in the world. It was the banana your grandparents ate. You eat the Cavendish, a different variety that replaced Gros Michael largely on the strength of its resistance to the killer fungus.

Gros Michel and Cavendish bananas both look and taste different from one another. Born in 1981, I've probably never eaten a Gros Michel banana. And chances are, my grandchildren won't know the flavor of a Cavendish. That's because the Cavendish still suffers from the same, basic weakness as its forebear. Just like Gros Michel, all Cavendishes are exactly alike. So a plantation full of Cavendishes is highly susceptible being wiped out by disease.

The disease banana plantations now fear: Black Sigatoka, a different fungus that can kill trees and reduce yields in the survivors. The solution: Goldfinger, a new banana clone bred to resist Black Sigatoka. It's surprisingly difficult to track down a verifiable photo of the Goldfinger online. The one used here comes from the website of a Vietnamese fruit company. Based on this, and other photos I found, it looks our grandchildren will know a banana that is decidedly squatter than the bananas we know today.

If you've got photos of Goldfinger bananas, or if you've tasted them, post in the comments! My understanding is that these bananas are already semi-popular in Australia, Singapore, and other places in that general vicinity. It'd be great if Happy Mutants from that part of the world could tell the rest of us what we have to look forward to.

Read the post at Damn Interesting that inspired my hunt for a picture of the Goldfinger.

Read a Popular Science article from 2005 about banana breeding, banana monoculture, and the threat of disease.

Image from Anh Vi Fruits.


  1. This looks just like the variety of banana I ate in Bornean Malaysia, particularly from the Ranau fruit market at the base of Mt. Kinabalu.

    Very sweet and tasty. I thought it was sweeter than the Cavendish, but they only had nice moderately spotted very ripe ones for sale.

    I’ve seen this shape at regular non-specialty grocery stores in San Francisco but have never tried them.

    1. This is the cheap kind. Costs about RM1-2 (US$0.35-0.70) for the whole hand.

      BTW: I know the banana in the picture can reproduce. Had lots of them behind the house when I was a kid.  They don’t need any human. But reproduction is asexual. The mature plant will “bud” daughters that grow in a circle all around the mother. My dad will just dig them up and plant them further apart in neat rows.

  2. I think I’ve read that the Gros Michel was tastier than the Cavendish, although at this point it may be too far gone for anyone to know. I’ve never seen the ones above, but at one of my local produce stores I did once buy a variety of bananas that was similarly squat in shape that had red peels. They were definitely not tasty–pretty sour, actually, although I think they weren’t fully ripe (personally I like my bananas nearly black).

    And I could have gotten a bad batch. I’ve always meant to find out more about them in the interests of giving them another try.

    1. I have seen small bananas (including the red variety) at my local non-specialty grocery store. My son likes them because they are small, as is he. When ripe we found them to taste very good. A little sweeter and more complex than “regular” bananas. I think my wife said they taste a little like a banana muffin.

      Of course, I don’t know if these were the same bananas. They could be a different banana that coincidentally looks similar.

    2. I can nearly guarantee you that those bananas were ripe. Many, if not most, varieties of bananas are incredibly starchy when unripe, and additionally have this unsettling quality that even the slightest nibble from them introduces this sticky spreading dryness in your mouth that takes something like a half an hour to go away. Not an experience you want to repeat. This is offset by the amazing juicy-waxy texture and mouth feel, as well as some truly wonderful flavors. I had Cuban Red bananas growing in the back yard of the place I stayed at in Hawaii. I eat Cavendishes on the mainland because they’re available, but they are mightily inferior to Cuban Reds.

      Mercifully, varieties with this unsettling dryness when unripe are also nearly impossible to peel when unripe.

      You probably had an “Apple Banana,” the flavor of which bears an uncanny resemblance to Granny Smith apples.

  3. These look similar to the ‘plaintainitos’ (literally ‘little bananas’) we found in markets in Perú a few years ago. They were really good, but then all the bananas we tried tasted amazing in comparison to the ones you buy in Europe. Perhaps being grown locally they were able to ripen for longer on the tree.

  4. I am allergic to the Gros Michel, but not the Cavendish.

    We went through all sorts of stunts in my youth to get me to eat the Gros Michel.

    Heres wondering what the next varietal will taste like and whether I will be allergic to that one.

    1. This is one major complaint about the added hidden genes in GMOs….that people with allergies will eat something that wouldn’t normally cause a reaction and yet it does.

      1. The old bananas are not GMO. SO that’s the problem with every single new variety humans breed, with any method.

      2. Even if there weren’t straightforward means of finding out whether the allergenicity of a food has been changed, it seems like a greater diversity of allergens in our food would be more likely to reduce allergy rates in general.

  5. I eat these pretty regularly, they’re available at a persian market in orange county where I shop. They are good, much smaller than regular bananas with a slightly ‘crisper’ taste almost reminiscent of an apple, but otherwise the same idea. 

    1. What market do you buy them at? I would be interested in trying them and I’m in Orange County as well.

      1. Might be the “Super Irvine” market on Culver next to the 5, in Irvine. If it isn’t the same one @boingboing-6c0678ae611febae9cbebe2e45ca5d86:disqus is referring to, it is at least a Persian market and it has a variety of interesting fruits (and a different selection than the more ubiquitous Asian grocery stores) though I can’t confirm whether they have these or not. I vaguely remember looking at a type of banana I hadn’t seen before, but it’s been several months since I’ve been there.

      2. Its a place called wholesome choice on the intersection of la palma and imperial in yorba linda. pretty cool store for weird/cheap foods. 

  6. I’ve seen these squat bananas (or ones that look exactly like them) in Australia and Hawaii, usually referred to as “sugar bananas”.  Some say they’re sweeter, but to me they taste the same as every other banana I’ve ever eaten.

    I’m curious if there are banana connoisseurs, like there are for everything else you can eat or drink – wines, peppers, tomatoes.  There are those who claim that specific breeds of tomatoes – speckled roman or brandywine, let’s say, taste the best, and further that tomatoes taste best when grown beside carrots and basil in volcanic soil at a specific humidity.   If they don’t exist, perhaps I should become the first banana connoisseur: you haven’t lived until you’ve had a peanut butter banana milk shake made  with perfectly ripe Gros Michel bananas and home grown virginia peanuts

    1.  I’ve always seen them called Lady Fingers, no idea why, and they’ve been available in various stores in Australia for 20+ years

      1.  Yeah, something that looks very similar to that is popular in Oz, and called ladyfinger…. wonder if it’s exactly the same thing (sure looks the same). Personal taste of course, but I think a perfectly ripe ladyfinger is SIGNIFICANTLY tastier than a perfectly ripe cavendish… tho they seem to bruise more easily and travel less well, which would explain why they are popular in Australia where they grow, but less available/popular in places like Northern Europe, to which bananas are usually shipped green and then ripened under ethylene.

      2. I initially agreed with you but, the wikipedia page on Lady Finger Bananas says that they are vulnerable to Black sigatoka. So it appears to be a different banana.

        1. To the best of my knowledge, Black Sigatoka has so far been kept out of Australia (It makes the news every now and then when countries like the Philippines or New Guinea complain about our restrictions on imports. I love these bananas. Much sweeter than Cavendish, don’t keep as long and don’t look as banana-ish. I lived in Vietnam for a while and all the bananas tasted like Ladyfingers, but weren’t quite as squat.

  7. I’m not sure it’s going to matter which variety arrives on supermarket shelves…if they keep showing up green, sour, and as hard as a rock I still won’t be buying them.

    One day I’d like to eat a banana ripe (or as close as possible) directly from the tree/plant/plantation.  Perhaps it won’t be much different or perhaps it’ll be like a tomato and I will realize what I’ve been missing all these years.

    1. I don’t understand why you’re not eating ripe bananas by buying the unripe ones and then letting them ripen. It’s *not* like tomatoes, which can be finicky to ripen. You pretty much can’t stop a banana from ripening.

      (Pro tip: when they’re yellow, they’re still not ripe. You want them well-speckled for that.)

      1. I’ve had bananas go from green to gray to splotchy black, and still taste like Styrofoam peanuts :(

      2. Actually there’s a point between unripe and ripe where a banana is perfect.  The flesh is fully ripe, but the flavor is sweeter.  I don’t remember where exactly, because it’s very hard to catch a banana there, and only lasts about a day.  I believe the skin is still a little green.

        And it’s  true you can’t stop a banana from ripening, but you can greatly slow it down by putting it in the refrigerator.  The skin will still blacken, but the flesh will remain good for a few more days.

          1. Totally depends on the banana. There’s a type of small banana in Vietnam that’s just green and that’s great as it is.

            Your Cavendish ain’t everybody else’s yardstick. (A green Cavendish or even a yellow one without brown specks for that matter _does_ taste like grass though.)

      3.  It isn’t at all the same. 
        When you are in the tropics you harvest when the first banana is yellow and  ripe. 
        You can’t compare the taste to harvested solid green supermarket bananas.  No matter how you ripen them. 
        I grew tons.  They had no real commercial value where they grew so well, but still were gladly taken off my hands. 
        Who would say no to bananas! 

        (Pro tip: EvilSpirit is right, they are perfect when they have tiny leopard dots/freckles.  But some people like the extra greenish taste.)

      4. I like my bananas yellow, up to the point of moderately speckled.  Once they’re more black than yellow, they’re muffin batter or trash.  Too squishy for me.

        What’s weird to me is that I’ve always liked banana-flavored things like banana pudding, banana candy, etc.  It’s a very distinctive taste that does not resemble the taste of actual bananas in any way, at least to my (kinda broken) taste buds.

        1.  Ah! you are a fan of isoamyl acetate! Fun fact: it is also an attack pheromone for bees, as a friend once found out after spilling a distillate flask on herself during organic lab in college.

          1. I’ve always thought it was more of a pear taste. Also interesting that it was used in aircraft fabric, I thought airplane museums smelled a bit funny.

          2. She may object to your referring to that fact as “fun.”  Then again, Mel Brooks would certainly characterize it so.

          1. Shake it, shake it sugaree, just don’t tell them that you know me. Shake it, shake it … Well shake it up now sugaree, I’ll meet you at the jubilee. ..

          2. I suppose I should be extra-nice to my heirs.  I gather it would be no trouble at all to poison me.

      1. Little known fact: bananas are a root. They also used to be on nickels. Gimme three bananas for a quarter, we’d say. Quarters had dimes on them and were only worth 15 cents. Because of the recession.

          1. What? No. I have no idea what you’re talking about and have never seen any of the reference material you’re linking to. This comment sent by smoke signal from my secret information-shielded underground bunker.

    2. Once you’ve conquered the location issue, another problem with becoming a banana connoisseur is that you may have to buy an entire stalk of each variety, not just a “hand” like we’re used to in temperate-zone supermarkets.

      On a long-ago birding trip from Texas into eastern Mexico, we spotted red “manzana” bananas at a roadside fruteria. The vendor wouldn’t sell us just a few, but the whole 20-pound stalk only cost a little more than a pound of ordinary bananas back home. The first few were exquisite, with thin wine-red skins and smooth flesh the color of orange sherbet and tasting faintly of berries.

      The novelty wore off rather quickly after we realized that we were just two days from the border, where large, intimidating signs warned against bringing fruit into the U.S. Rather than waste those tropical gems, the three of us ate bananas (and little else) all the way to Brownsville, leaving a trail of skins behind our VW camper.

      At the border, the agent asked if we had anything to declare. “Just these damned bananas,” my husband said, ” and you can have ’em.” The agent replied, “Oh, you can bring those in.”

    3.  You’ll realise what you’ve been missing all these years.
      The difference is not as dramatic as with stonefruit, but still, a ripe ladyfinger banana from the tree is astonishingly delicious.

  8. I’ve seen something similar to these in my local supermarket (Asda), but they were called bananitos.  Tasted (sadly) exactly like a normal banana.

    1. Or rather, the prologue. The song is from the early 20’s, when the blight first got going. It took a few decades after that to spread worldwide.

  9. I’ve seen them in south-east-asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia). They seemed to be pretty popular there, and to me tasted a bit sweeter than regular bananas.

  10. I remember when I was a kid my grandfather used to complain about bananas not being as good as they were back in his days. Until now I had always blamed it to nostalgia, you know, bananas have always tasted the same during all my life.

  11. The peel of the Gros Michel banana was actually extremely slippery (moreso than the Cavendish), and inspired that comedic standby of someone slipping on a banana peel. Entire generations who have only grown up with Cavendish bananas and have actually tried stepping on a Cavendish banana peel to see if that joke was true or not end up very confused, or writing the whole thing off as an urban legend. Yes, Virginia, banana peels used to be slippery, and yes, it’s very funny when someone steps on one.

    1.  I’ve heard that. I’ve also heard that banana peels were a polite company stand in for dog and/or horse crap, which is definitely slippery and would have once been a much more ubiquitous part of the urban landscape. That might be an urban myth, but it does seem to make more sense than banana peels apparently posing such a hazard.

      1. Do they deliver anything besides pictures of half-naked muscle-boys with rifles hiding in tropical foliage?

  12. Very common to find the little ones here in Mexico.  The peel is thinner, the taste is usually sweeter and more intense.  Might just be because they are grown locally. 
    ( If you go to the corporate supermarket they sell Cavendish bananas that are green-gray and taste bitter/starchy, even when “ripe”)

  13. I’ll have to ask my neighbor what kind he’s got in his yard.  They are REALLY tasty bananas, far better than the cavendish ones.  They have an almost citrus flavor.

  14.  Gros Michel isn’t extinct. It is just really rare. I have some on order and will be attempting to grow them in the bay area.
    FHIA-01 ‘Goldfinger’ isn’t a likely Cavendish (actually Williams strain) replacement. It will supplement our normal long dessert bananas. A more suitable replacement would be FHIA-02 ‘Mona Lisa’ or FHIA-03 ‘Sweetheart’. FHIA-17 and FHIA-23 are also suitable varieties.
    It isn’t true that Cavendish bananas are completely sterile or totally genetically identical. Something like 1 in 20000 fruit will contain a seed, and it is these seeds which can be used in propagation programs. Also, banana genetics are relatively unstable and genetic mutation leads to new strains of banana. Currently they are using the Williams Cavendish strain.

  15. I loathe Cavendish bananas, but I love these tiny bananas and buy then whenever they are available at my local Asian and Latin groceries. They are very sweet and sticky with a more concentrated flavor and a much less starchy, mealy texture. I’ve seen several varieties, one that has a very thin skin and not much of a ridge along the seams and a rounded end and is typically about 1.5 cm in diameter and 5 in length, and another version (usually called niño banana) that is more like a miniature Cavendish, with distinct angles along the seams and a thicker skin and mealier texture. 

  16. I grow lady finger bananas in New Zealand a short variety which looks identical to the ones in your photo. They have quite a complex rich flavour which can be a bit overwhelming when you are used to eating very plain varieties. 

    One of the main benefits of these smaller varieties is that they are much more cold tolerant. A hard frost -2 or -3 will seriously harm them but a light frost doesnt kill them.

  17. Last time I was in Hawaii I got spoiled on Hawaiian Apple Bananas (yeah, the name is confusing, they smell like an apple), which at least look similar to the Goldfinger.  The texture is better than a Cavendish, the flavor is better than a Cavendish… and they cost about $20/lb to get on the mainland, so no more of that for me.  
    The Cavendish are partly well liked because they are easy to ship.

  18. On our recent trip to Brazil, we were told that if you plant a banana tree in your garden, you will have a constant battle on your hands to keep them from taking over the whole yard.

    This is a gardening problem I think I could put up with…

  19. The Black Sigatoka sounds like a villain from a pulp novel.

    And if it’s going to take my beloved bananas from me, it might as well be.

    “The Black Sigatoka will stop at nothing. He’s already killed Gros Michel, and now Cavendish fears for his life. Whatever will we do?”
    “Fear not, madam. I will defeat this dastardly villain. I, Goldfinger, have no fear of the Black Sigatoka! By my juicy, palatable flesh and stout outer skin, I swear it. Cavendish and Gros Michel shall be avenged!”

  20. I ate many apple bananas when I was in Hawaii, too. My first thought was “so this is what fruit is supposed to taste like!” 

    I’ve never been to anyplace vaguely tropical before, and I got hooked on all the fruit. We mainlanders really end up with some horribly bland and flavorless fruits

  21. I ate these in the Dominican Republic regularly while serving in the Peace Corps.  There they are called ‘rulos’.  Very commonly used there.

  22. ate them whenever I could when I lived in Taiwan. They were very tasty; sweeter and richer than a Cavendish. I prefer them, though living in Taiwan gives one access to amazing fresh tropical and subtropical fruit so I could biased because the ones sold in Taiwan were so fresh. But though I might be sad to know that me eating a goldfinger is the result of monoculture Fail, I will try to be optomistic.

  23. I am shocked.  SHOCKED that the post author did not say “Just look at this Banana Article.  Look at it.”

  24. I think Spike Jones had the bananaless future right:

  25. When I was a kid (I’m 41) the bananas I ate (not very often) had small black seeds in the flesh of them. I haven’t seen that in many years.

    1.  Same here! I’m 39, and I’ve on occasion looked at my banana and wondered at the loss of these seeds, though never long enough to actually look into it.

  26. Reminds me of the book “Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi. Sort of post apocolyptic where the oil reserves have run dry and diseases are continually wiping out our gene bred food supplies.

  27. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya 07-08, and you could find little stubby bananas like those in many village markets.  People called them “Zanzibar Bananas.”  They tasted just like a regular banana, though all bananas over there were much fresher and tastier than any banana I’ve ever had in the USA.  You could also find red bananas and starchy green bananas that tasted like a potato.

  28. Major Motoko Kusanagi:  It’s simple: overspecialize, and you breed in weakness. It’s slow death.

  29. We grow these in our backyard (here in Honolulu).  The Hawaiian “apple banana” is actually a Brazilian cultivar brought here from Tahiti in the 1800s.  I suppose these are the ones my grandchildren will eat if my son inherits our house and doesn’t put in a swimming pool.

  30. Goldfinger
    It’s the fruit, the fruit that can say ta ta
    To black sigatoka
    The scientists tinker
    Beckon you to eat them with your meal
    Don’t slip on their peel

  31. This will be a huge disappointment to people who use bananas for immoral purposes (you know who you are).

  32. when I was a kid growing up in Czechoslovakia (in the 60’s) we hardly ever had bananas. But I enjoyed them the odd time we did. Then my older brother told me a story about a little girl who peeled a banana and found a snake inside (probably based on tales of snakes showing up in banana shipments), and henceforth my brother ate all my bananas. It was years before I ate them again.

  33. I’ve bought reds a couple times around here, but these reds have to be nearly black before they are ripe. If you eat them while they are still mostly bright red, they are dry and bitter.

  34. “…..With a clattering of chairs, upended shell cases, benches, and ottomans, Pirate’s mob gather at the shores of the great refectory table, a southern island well across a tropic or two from chill Corydon Throsp’s mediaeval fantasies, crowded now over the swirling dark grain of its walnut uplands with banana omelets, banana sandwiches, banana casseroles, mashed bananas molded into the shape of a British lion rampant, blended with eggs into batter for French toast, squeezed out a pastry nozzle across the quivering creamy reaches of a banana blancmange to spell out the words C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre (attributed to a French observer during the Charge of the Light Brigade) which Pirate has appropriated as his motto … tall cruets of pale banana syrup to pour oozing over banana waffles, a giant glazed crock where diced bananas have been fermenting since the summer with wild honey and muscat raisins, up out of which, this winter morning, one now dips foam mugsfull of banana mead … banana croissants and banana kreplach, and banana oatmeal and banana jam and banana bread, and bananas flamed in ancient brandy Pirate brought back last year from a cellar in the Pyrenees also containing a clandestine radio transmitter… .””

  35.  Are the bananas in the picture really supposed to be Goldfingers?  They look just like a type of banana with about six different names that’s been sold in some of the big chains in Texas (Fiesta, HEB) for about twenty years. I had heard these bananas didn’t ship as well as the Cavendish and were delivered in small lots by truck from Guatemala and Mexico.

    That’s sure not a recent development of a new strain in Vietnam.

  36. I had some bananas that looked like that just a few months ago from a fruit stand in Singapore. They were pretty tasty, but I was disappointed that they tasted pretty much like domestic bananas, with maybe a little stronger flavor.

    I did have a banana-based dessert at a Vietnamese restaurant that featured a banana that was reddish and somewhat tart, and also had seeds.

  37. “You just keep your eyes open for any bananafish. This is a perfect day for bananafish.”
    “I don’t see any,” Sybil said.
    “That’s understandable. Their habits are very peculiar.” He kept pushing the float. The water was not quite up to his chest. “They lead a very tragic life,” he said. “You know what they do, Sybil?”
    She shook her head.
    “Well, they swim into a hole where there’s a lot of bananas. They’re very ordinary-looking fish when they swim in. But once they get in, they behave like pigs. Why, I’ve known some bananafish to swim into a banana hole and eat as many as seventy-eight bananas.” He edged the float and its passenger a foot closer to the horizon. “Naturally, after that they’re so fat they can’t get out of the hole again. Can’t fit through the door.”
    “Not too far out,” Sybil said. “What happens to them?”
    “What happens to who?”
    “The bananafish.”
    “Oh, you mean after they eat so many bananas they can’t get out of the banana hole?”
    “Yes,” said Sybil.
    “Well, I hate to tell you, Sybil. They die.”
    “Why?” asked Sybil.
    “Well, they get banana fever. It’s a terrible disease.”

  38. There are delicious little bananas in Cyprus that taste really banana-y, not like the tasteless, moist and slimy version sold in northern supermarkets; but EU rules means the Cypriots can’t export them. 
    Separately, there’s a whole political question about the US demanding access to EU markets for their bananas, grown on huge corporate industrial-scale farms, which is threatening to wipe out the usual EU suppliers, small family farms. 

  39. What kind are the baby bananas?  They’re only about three inches and ripen way too fast to keep up with them.  They are super popular in Thailand, once in a while my local asian market or even the regular market will have them.

  40. Living in the EU, i remember that we used to have a different kind of Bananas before the EU changed import regulations in the early-mid nineties.
    The old “Dollar bananas” where quite a bit larger, and where a bit firmer overall, but at least the newer breed tasted a bit sweeter.

  41. I feel sorry for most of you :-P growing up in Brazil, we have regular access to at least 4 varieties of banana, and most families buy them cyclically to avoid getting tired of it. We have the very large ones which are a variety of the Cavendish (called “banana nanica”, which translates to “short banana”, so called not for irony but because the plant is one of the shortest), the “banana maçã” (apple banana, mentioned by a few commenters), the small “banana prata” (“silver”) which is similar to the Goldfinger (according to Wikipedia, Goldfinger is a hybrid of “prata-anã” with another hybrid in the Honduras), and the really tiny “banana ouro” (“gold”) which is the sweetest and favourite of children everywhere.

    And then of course there are rarer varieties that you can find with a little effort…

    As for the original question posed by Maggie: no. I think with our global economy and whatnot, the most likely trend is that Europeans and North-Americans will soon begin consuming a variety of banana types, like most of the world already does. And we’ll all rejoice.

      1. Right on. Cavendish was chosen because it was the one (surviving) cultivar that wasn’t susceptible to catastrophic diseases, could be shipped to the other end of the world
        and stored there and whose taste was tolerable. The Cavendish Quasi-Monopoly(tm) is a result of “our global economy”.

        But fruit logistics and storage technology have improved dramatically over the past decades so who knows…

  42. i’m in vietnam right now and they are very good, especially in pancakes. Strange to see ripe bananas with a still very green peel

  43. Cavendish is the *only* banana available in the US?

    In Malaysia alone you can usually find 3-4 types at most supermarkets. I like the “berangan” the best – stubbier than Cavendish, half the price of the Cavendish (usually branded “Dole” over here), softer and sweeter.

    Types of bananas in Malaysia : 

    There are also these HUGE bananas the size of your forearm, I think popular in the countryside, that you have to cook first. I think I saw these in Africa in a documentary too.

    There are also bananas with red skin. 

    One of our very common Indian-inspired meals are served on banana leavess (which are huge). Somehow, it makes the rice and curries tastier. A very common Malay-inspired breakfast, the “nasi lemak” used to be sold wrapped in banana leaves. Now usually just wrapped in wax paper. 

    1. Cavendish is the *only* banana available in the US?

      If you shop in stores that are only frequented by gringo types, yes. If you live in an area with a large Latino or Asian population, there are usually a couple of varieties even in the big supermarkets.

  44. Next to y house (Yogyakarta, Indonesia) I have a bunch of banana trees, and I can’t stop them from growing. Had to cut some of them down. Every 2 months I cut one big tree down and collect between 50-80 gorgeously tasting banana’s. Most of which we give away to neighbors, because we’re a small family.

    Judging my neighborhood, and banana prices in stores, there is no problem what so ever with banana’s here…..Strange to read this article…..

  45. I live on the Island of Antigua and Barbuda and that is just a different type of banana their are many different types from the same banana family growing on this island.

  46. That looks a lot like a banana My Uncle-in-law gave us from the Zoo he works in in Ohio. I think it was still too ripe when I tried to eat it as it wasn’t very nice at all!

  47. I’m working on reading a book on the subject, and am intensely curious to try these new Goldfingers. Although the book says they may not be a proper replacement for the Cavendish because they’re a bit more tart than the current bananas, like a pear or an apple. Sadly, the only bananas we get in the store are the Cavendish or sometimes the little red bananas, as well as plantains.

  48. I think I have had the Goldfinger banana.  Purchased from a sidewalk fruit guy in Sunset Park Brooklyn.  He didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Cantonese, so we never got the details.  But it was clearly not the same (Cavendish) variety as we usually get so we bought a bunch.  It was sweet, not mealy, softer than a Cavendish.  

  49. – sigh – BB, you have posted an article about bananas that does not contain the words:
    ‘Just Look At…’ in the title!

  50. I live near the largest pan-asian grocery store in New England*, I’ll go look.

    * the music is awesome in there

  51. In Mexico we have those little bananas. I remember eating them as a child about 15 years ago. We call them “dominicos” (The name comes from a catholic order.) And they are sweeter and the consistency is more creamy.

  52. All y’all saying that you have eaten these and that they are as common as air wherever you live/went on vacation: stop. Unless you know it was a Goldfinger, there are many, many cultivars of short, stubby, delicious bananas. Some of them are catalogued here.

    Just cause it’s short and stubby, doesn’t mean that it’s this banana.

    The point of this one seems to be that it could be a replacement for the Cavendish, which makes it different from other short and stubby varieties you’ve eaten elsewhere. If American companies could just import the common bananas from Brazil or Peru or Thailand they would and no one would be worrying about the Cavendish being wiped out. The problem is that most of those varieties can’t be shipped far distances, either because they spoil quickly, don’t ripen off the tree, or whatever.

  53. We call them ladyfingers or sugar bananas in Far North Queensland, Australia. They’re much sweeter in taste than the Cavendish, and have a different texture – somehow mushier and grittier at the same time. I also find the skin to be much thinner and sometimes harder to remove without damaging the fruit beneath it.

  54. Well I hope I have good news for you. I am allergic to Cavendish (they make all the skin in my mouth peel off and on the occasions I was silly enough to swallow, burn everything they touch) and I eat the Goldfinger without incident. I can’t even smell an overly ripe Cavendish without my nose burning so the first time I smelt these little things without that sense of burn I just knew bananas smoothies were in my future.

  55. The typical pattern for allergies is that you are exposed to something, become sensitive to it, and then later react to it.  My understanding is that y0u are not generally allergic to something the first time you encounter it.  It could be that you were sensitized in your early exposures and then the allergy developed during the time off.

    For example, my dad has to carry an epi-pen around because of bee stings.  That only became a problem for him after having been stung at least twice.  Once when he had no reaction, and the second time when he discovered how severe his new reaction was.  My worst allergy is to oak pollen, and it only surfaced almost twenty years after moving to a city with lots of oak trees.

    There are hundreds of varieties of bananas, I have no idea if the variety would matter.   Most varieties don’t travel well, which is one reason we eat the Cavendish.  If the variety does matter you could go on an exciting banana eating tour of the world.  It would be spiced up by the uncertainty of whether you would have a reaction and the possibility of being somewhere where medical care was unavailable.

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