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Filipino vs USA: Bananas

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“Yuck! Where are the delicious little Filipino bananas.” My future wife complained as she held a bunch of the only fruit I had known as bananas with a look of disgust as if she were holding a two day dead decaying ‘possum. This happened in a super market in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA after I had brought Juliet to the USA on a fiancé’ visa this incident lead to a desperate futile search of Raleigh grocery stores including many Asian markets for delicious little Filipino bananas that I had never seen. My first visit to the Philippines had been brief and I did not remember these bananas. At some point my wife found frozen Saba bananas from Davao, Philippines that she microwaves. My wife refuses to eat the Cavendish bananas that are sold in grocery stores everywhere in the USA. In this article I am going to compare the USA Cavendish bananas against the Filipino Saba bananas in three categories: Non-dessert, Dessert and Raw.

How about some Bananas

How about some Bananas

What is a 13A Visa

Non-dessert: The Philippines offer a couple of non-dessert that I am familiar with banana lumpia and stew with bananas in it. I love lumpia and I love bananas, but for some reason when you put the two together what you get in my opinion is a greasy mess. The combination of banana and lumpia seems to be a waste of both banana and lumpia. The best I can say for banana lumpia is that it is edible. The stews I have eaten with bananas in it are good, but the addition of the banana does not for me do a lot for the taste of the stew although the banana is better used in this Filipino dish than in banana lumpia.

Saba Bananas

Saba Bananas

What does the USA have to offer in the non-dessert banana fray you might wonder? The answer is a beloved favorite from my youth the BMW, Banana and Miracle Whip sandwich. These sandwiches were a staple of my youth growing up in the Southern USA. Some like to use Dukes Mayonnaise for these delicious sandwiches, but either way the combination of bananas, mayonnaise and bread are hard to beat. Elvis Presley famously loved PBB&B, Peanut Butter Banana &Bacon sandwiches, but I must confess I do not remember eating one. I got more research I need to do, but simply based on the BMW Sandwich the USA has the Philippines beat easily in the non-dessert category.

Dessert: Bananas on a stick in caramelized sugar is one of the biggest treats I enjoy to eat in the Philippines. One of my wife’s aunts makes them in the barrio and sells them for as I remember about 5 pesos and they are heavenly. Fried bananas with or without sugar are another of my favorite Filipino dishes especially when there hot from the pan cooked over a fire.  In the USA, we have banana pudding, which is a combination of bananas, banana pudding and vanilla wafers. I like bananas and vanilla wafers, but putting them in pudding for me creates a soggy mess, edible at best. A USA dessert that I actually enjoy is banana bread. My wife makes delicious bread and when it is hot it gives the Filipino desserts a run for the money.  The banana on a stick in caramelized sugar is simply too delicious to be beat so Filipino bananas win the dessert category.

Banana Q a popular snack in the Philippines

Banana Q a popular snack in the Philippines

Raw: It is only fitting that the banana battle comes down to the raw flavor of the respective bananas. My wife has tried one bite of a Cavendish banana. She spit it out and made a face like she was going to vomit. This article is not about her opinion though and I like Cavendish bananas for their taste and texture. I eat them every day if they are available. I put them in my lunch bag when I go to work. Often I buy a Cavendish for a healthy alternative snack at a convenience store. I know a store where I can get one for $.50. The Cavendish is very convenient in that it is large enough where one is a good snack where as I need several Saba bananas to make a snack.

It does not look good for the small Filipino Saba bananas, but wait for it…Filipino bananas, much like Filipino ladies, are smaller but sweeter than their USA counterparts. I said I like the taste of Cavendish, but I absolutely love the taste of Saba bananas. When ripe on my last visit to the Philippines we harvested bananas from Mama’s yard and I think I inhaled 30 of these delicious Saba bananas and it spoiled my taste for dinner, but it was well worth it. I cannot wait for my next vacation and opportunity to eat these delicious bananas! I wonder how wonderful it would be to eat one of Elvis’ PBB&B sandwiches with Filipino peanut butter and Saba bananas. That one goes on my bucket list. If you haven’t eaten Saba Bananas, you really don’t know what you are missing!

Jay Stainback

Jay Stainback lives in Raleigh, NC, USA and is hoping/planning to retire to Bohol in about 10 years. He is married to his beautiful Filipina wife Juliet whom he met on-line. They were married 12/7/02 and have two boys’ ages 9 years old and 5 years old. Jay has visited the Philippines 4 times the first time 1 week, the 2nd time 2 weeks, the 3rd time for 3 weeks, the 4th time 4 weeks spending most of their time in Bohol.

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Steve Coleman
5 years ago

very interesting, but banana pudding is best the day after when the wafers are soggy.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve Coleman

Hi Steve,

I am probably the only Southerner that does not like banana pudding. Times are tough at family reunions.

Peace

Jay

Brent Finger
5 years ago

The real problem would be there are no bananas that come from the USA. All bananas are imported from countries that grow them. Mexico and South America. So hard to compare something that is a import and not something native to North America

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Brent Finger

Hi Brent,

I know technically that bananas do not come from the US, although I think some grow in Puerto Rico. These articles are about what is available in the US and the Philippines. I write the articles; I make the rules and change them when I want!

Thanks for the comment. All input is appreciated by me anyway.

Peace

Jay

John t
John t
5 years ago

So you married your wife after a week of knowing her in person? Anazing you weren’t there even long enough to see those tiny bananas that are everywhere in PH. They are OK but I still like the ole’ ones I grew up with in the US.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  John t

Hi John t,

Thanks for the comment! I actually married my wife after we spent a moth together in the USA, but I had decided to marry her before I even got on the plane to meet her in person. I am not saying that is what others should do, but we fell in love through hand written letters.

I think the Saba bananas have to be at a certain level of ripeness to be good. They were not ripe I think when I was there for my first visit.

Peace

Jay

Irene
Irene
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Hi I’m filipina too from Davao and now live here in Greensboro NC for 2 years now I just wanna ask where can I find the Saba fresh or frozen?ive been looking for a while now but no luck..we don’t have much Asian grocery here so I can only eat the Saba at Asian buffet…I really wanna know where I can buy this I’m craving for it everyday Thanks so much and for ur article

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Irene

Hi Irene,

My wife has bought frozen Saba Bananas here:

Oriental Store of Raleigh Inc. is located at 3601-101 Capital Blvd. Raleigh, NC 27604. If you have any questions for us, you may call us at 919-876-6911.

I do not know about Greensboro. The Oriental Store is run by Filipinos and they even have a Filipino restaurant. It is small really mostly for take out. Hope this helps!

Peace

Jay

Irene
Irene
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Hi Jay

Thank you so much for the reply…I just wish we have some Filipino store here too I’ve been in Raleigh twice but only at the airport ? I may look if they have some in Charlotte were going there July my brother in law says he found some Asian groceries there if I can’t find the Saba I may have to give y’all a call..But I’m still really hoping I can find in here…Thanks so much again I’m saving ur number

Irene ☺️

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Irene

Hi Irene,

Good luck on your search. Raleigh would be a pretty long drive for frozen banans. It is probably 1.5 hours drive. For the record, I am not in anyway affiliated with Oriental Store of Raleigh. The phone number is for them. I got it from their website. I just know they are Filipino run and have frozen Saba bananas. Charlotte is a big city. You may find frozen Sabas there. Glad you enjoyed my article!

Peace

Jay

John A. Coldwell
5 years ago

You forgot Banana Cream Pie – I think both bananas would be good in that!

Jay
Jay
5 years ago

Hi John,

Thanks for the input! I am not sure I have ever eaten banana cream pie. This calls for more research on my part!

Peace

Jay

Bob Martin
5 years ago

Hi Jay. Where I live Cavendish bananas are used for pig food. Not considered fit for human consumption.

Cordillera Cowboy
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob Martin

Bob, my wife told me the same. She said they called them monkey bananas. She thought it was hilarious that we ate them.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob Martin

Hi Bob,

My sweet and beautiful wife would be shocked…..that the pigs would eat them…or that the manager of the piggery would be so cruel to his pigs!

Peace

Jay

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Hi Pete,

I think most Filipinos scratch their heads over how Kanos eat Cavendish bananas, but my understanding is that they are the default banana. I personally only think I have eaten Cavendish and Saba Bananas. Bob said there are much better bananas in an e-mail response to my submitted article. Do you have a favorite?

Peace

Jay

AJ UK
AJ UK
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob Martin

My wife had the same response when she cam to the UK with me for the first time…….”We feed those to the pigs!”

Now though, the whole family in the Philippines eat them as they have actually tasted them and realise that they do not poison you. I think the turning point was when I made banana splits at one of our parties!

I do like those small sweet bananas though and the boiled Sabah bananas. The brother in law cooks wonderful caramel bananas!

Cheers

AJ UK

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  AJ UK

Hi AJ UK,

I considered including banana splits in the article, but decided that was more about ice cream than bananas. Thanks for adding your input to my article. I did not realize that Filipinos fed pigs bananas before writing this article. So I learned some new things which is always one of my goals in writing.

Peace

Jay

Nilda Valpey
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob Martin

That is so true Bob, I grew up with lots of bananas growing everywhere in our backyard and most of them we cooked and feed to our pigs, when I first arrived here in the US, all I saw in the stores was bananas that we feed to the pigs. Lots of great eating bananas in the Philippines that cant find it here in the US. I really miss all organic food there.

Bob Martin
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob Martin

Lagi Nilda.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob Martin

Hi Nilda,

I know you addressed your comment to Bob, but what you said is so true. Filipinos give up a lot when they live abroad: family, friends, bananas, jack fruit, filipino peanut butter, pandesal, etc. Have I made you call the airline to book a flight yet. Thanks for the comment and hang in there!

Peace

Jay

Dennis Glass
Dennis Glass
5 years ago

Nana Puddin.
Now that is a delicious treat. Is there anywhere that Vanilla wafers can be bought
in the Philippines?

queeniebee5
queeniebee5
5 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Glass

Hi Dennis,
I’m always on the lookout for vanilla wafers and banana pudding mix. I’m damned I’m gonna make banana pudding sooner or later here!
Queenie

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

Hi Queenie and Dennis,

“Good luck with all that.” said a wiseman. I am surprised they do not sell vanilla wafers in the grocery stores in the Philippines. I do not like banana pudding, but I love to make little peanut butter sandwiches with them. Thanks for commenting!

Peace

Jay

Cordillera Cowboy
5 years ago

I have to go with the bananas of the Philippines. Much more flavor and variety. There are actually several types, each with its own characteristics and flavor, Part of the problem with the ones in the US is that, as Brent mentioned, they are imported from the tropics. That means they have to be harvested before the flavor develops and the shipping timed so that they don’t rot by the time they go on the grocery shelf. Hard to beat fresh off the tree. The banana lumpia has a name, but I can’t think of it right now. My wife… Read more »

Jay
Jay
5 years ago

Hi Pete,

If I let not knowing what I was writing about me stop me from writing them I would never write another article! Thanks for your knowledgeable input! All I know is the bananas from Mama’s yard were by far the best I have eaten!

Peace

Jay

Cordillera Cowboy
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

“If I let not knowing what I was writing about me stop me from writing them I would never write another article!”

Jay, I think the literary folks call that “stream of consciousness” writing. Just let the thoughts flow!

Zabelle Cane
5 years ago

Woow organic banana

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Zabelle Cane

Hi Zabelle,

I always like to get comments from Filipinas, because they have a different take on things. Those bananas were organic and delicious!

Peace

Jay

SteveC
SteveC
5 years ago

Banana Q, mmmmm! Philippine bananas have sort of ruined me for the big yellow bananas we have here in the states.
A couple of months ago I was in a convenience store and the manager told the clerk to change out the bananas because they had a couple of brown spots on them. I had to laugh!

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  SteveC

Hi Steve,

I agree Filipino bananas have the ones available in the USA beat by a mile! I love bananaque! Thanks for your input!

Peace

Jay

queeniebee5
queeniebee5
5 years ago

Hi Jay, In the Peace Corps I was assigned to a health and nutrition program, so I learned about and discovered many ( 74?) varieties and flavors of bananas in the Philippines. There are some that are green when already ripe that are good for bouts of diarrhea, red and pink skinned bananas, and the tiny seniorita or “lady finger” bananas. I love the cavandish or “chiquita” bananas that I remember fondly from the States. I miss banana pudding, banana cream pie from my old place in Rhode Island. I’ve never heard of a banana and miracle whip sandwich, although… Read more »

Cordillera Cowboy
5 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

Turon!!!! That’s what the banana lumpia is called! Thanks Queeniebee!

Take care,
Pete

John Reyes
John Reyes
5 years ago

Hi Pete – I was going to say the same thing, Pete, when I first saw your comment about not remembering the name, then farther down, I saw Queenie’s comment that mentioned the name. Yes, it’s called turon. My wife generally stays away from Filipino street food whenever we visit the Philippines, but while in Baguio the last time we visited, she finally had her first taste of Filipino street food. It was sold at a stand with a roof outside SM Mall in Baguio. The ladies behind the counter were pleasant-looking, and they wore hair nets and gloves. This,… Read more »

queeniebee5
queeniebee5
5 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Hi John,

Haha not sure about the breadfruit addition–I think you mean langka,
Bisaya nangka (jackfruit) Both end with fruit though:) Let me know!
Queenie

John Reyes
John Reyes
5 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

LOL Queenie!

You’re more Filipino than I am. Yes, I meant langka, and it’s jackfruit in English. The turon with langka my wife bought in Baguio sells for P15. How do I remember? I just got through watching the video of our Philippine trip last December.

I can’t wait for our next trip again in December of this year.

queeniebee5
queeniebee5
5 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

I’m sure you can’t wait to visit again:)
Making turon at home is pretty easy to do. My teenaged neighbor and I decided to try to cook many local sweets and turon was one. Maybe your wife could gather the ingredients and try to make them at home.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

Hi Queenie,

She might could with the frozen Saba bananas, I don’t think she even likes to touch Cavendish bananas. Thanks for the suggestion. She has become a good cook. Her family back home is shocked when I tell them this because she never cooked when she was living with them. One time my wife tasted clam chowder and she was able to make a really good chowder just from tasting once. I am blessed!

Peace

Jay

PapaDuck
PapaDuck
5 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

John, Jay

Anne just made a batch of turon the other day. She added jackfruit, buko and sugar to it. She used very little oil, like she normally does, so it wasn’t greasy at all. With the left over wrappers she made fresh lumpia. When we go to the market we get a big green banana that is eaten raw and while still green that is sweeter than the Cavendish. It does not turn yellow. Anne cannot remember the name. While ask when we go to the market on Saturday.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  PapaDuck

Hi Randy,

Jackfruit now you are talking delicious when ripe! From what I read are you living in the Philippines? I don’t think we have big green bananas in the USA that are ripe. You probably said something about being in the Philippines before, but I think I may be getting Old Timers disease at only 50.

Peace

Jay

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

Hi Queenie, Wow! Thanks for the awesome comment! A lot of information shared in it and greatly appreciated by all I am sure. I think you make a good point about comfort food. The Cavendish is getting run down a lot, but for you it probably reminds you of home. My wife on the otherhand wants Saba bananas because they remind her of home at Mama’s where they grow in the yard. The Cavendish banana by the way is simply what is a generic Chiquita type banana that you would find in groceries stores I am guessing all over the… Read more »

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

Hi Queenie,

It has been many years since, I have had a BMW, Banana Miracle Whip, sandwich. I now always have sandwiches with some kind of dead animal on them for need of protein it is many hours between lunch and dinner for me. I think BMW sandwiches are mostly a Southern USA thing and really only a light snack, but I remember them being delicious!

Peace

Jay

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