After a long and unsuccessful day scouting dusty and sometimes moldy cardboard boxes I was ready to give up. But, as goes with these things, I need’nt have looked far. An entire shelf of vintage cookbooks at my parents’ house was gathering dust, having gone unused for the past few decades, most of which date back to the 60’s and 70’s. That’s another dimension in cookbook universe time. There were books of all kinds; an ambitious thin paperback that aims to capture ALL of Asian cuisine, from Japanese, to India via Korea, Burma and Hawaii, another lists all possible American pie recipes, a Hungarian cookbook that calls for beef dripping in most of the dessert recipes, candy making, bread making, pasta making… There were the cookbooks that come with space- age appliances, like the electric non stick crepe pan my father bought when I was wee, newspaper clippings and community project cookbooks.
Important historical, cultural and anthropological evidence set aside, this is an excellent resource for ideas. I cannot look to the future since I cannot afford any new cookbooks at the moment, so the past is just as good, and maybe even better...
Where else would i have stumbled upon a Hawaiian baked ham and bananas recipe, coconut and caramel included? I still need to give that one a go, but I also had plans of my own. After giving the recipe a facelift, a nip and a tuck, this is my version of a banana and ham dish. Sweet, savory and tangy you need to watch out, it bites. Oh, and it works...
Sweet n' Spicy Banana
(Serves 2 as a side dish)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
A handful diced smoked ham (optional!)
1 Tsp peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
A handful of chopped fresh Coriander leaves (or substitute with chopped scallion)
1 red chili, seeded, cut into short strips and snipped into pieces
½ Tsp Sriracha sauce (optional)
2 Tbs lime juice
½ tsp caster sugar
2 Tbs Soy sauce
Roasted sesame seeds, roasted shelled peanuts, coconut flakes; either one or a mixture of.
in a medium salad bowl combine the red pepper, smoked ham (if using), ginger and chili. Slice and fold in the bananas, along with the coriander and the limejuice. Add the soy sauce, sugar and olive and toss gently. Adjust seasoning and sprinkle with the roasted sesame seeds, peanuts or coconut flakes, if using. Serve immediately.