ABOUT THIS BOOK
Sweet but starchy, soft but toothsome—and so easy to peel they just beg to be devoured—bananas are one of our favorite foods, found everywhere from gas station counters to Michelin star restaurants. Yet for as versatile and ubiquitous as this fruit is today, its history is a turbulent one, entangled in colonial domination, capitalist exploitation, sexual politics, and even horrific violence. Delving into the banana’s past, this book traces the complex circumstances of global modernity that perfectly aligned to grant us, often at tremendous costs, a treat we all now take for granted.
Beginning with the banana’s origins in New Guinea, Lorna Piatti-Farnell follows its pathways to South East Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas, binding together a millennium of history into one digestible bunch. Focusing especially on the banana’s recent past, she shows how it rose from a regional staple to a global commodity, on par with coffee and sugar. She examines the ways it has been advertised, sold, and incorporated into popular culture, moving from nineteenth-century medical manuals to cookbooks, songs, slapstick comedy, and problematic figures like Miss Chiquita. Wide-ranging but pocket-sized, Banana is a culinary and cultural account of a peculiar little fruit that is at once the icon of exoticism and one of the most familiar foods we eat.