Flaming Bananas – a Foot out the Door

Ooh, so good!

DSC_5371LRStand back! 

Bananas Foster Flambé

Here’s en exciting way to get your RDA of potassium via the bananas, with a little joy juice thrown in to widen the arteries.

Thanks to my wife, we’ve had this a couple of times, and it’s a blast to make. It was a special cheer-me-up when we made it in grumpy chilly grouchy excessively sober Olympia, Washington, where we were encamped for two interminable years.

To serve 4:

  • melt 4 tbsps. butter with 4 tbsps. brown sugar and mix well over over low heat
  • add 3 tbsps. (or 2 capfuls) of Crème de Banana
  • add 8-10 bananas, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
  • simmer until they’re soft
  • turn up the heat, add 2-3 oz. of brandy, wait a scant 5 seconds, then light on fire and reduce heat to sim. (You won’t be lighting the liquid; you’ll be lighting the alcohol vapor – just hold a lit match over the pan, and stand back!)
  • keep simmering until the last flame flickers out. Serve ’em up!

This is best served with vanilla ice cream or a frozen yogurt. Delicious!

Oh, by the way, it was named for Richard Foster, the chairman of the New Orleans Crime Commission and a close friend of restaurant owner Owen Brennan, who created the dish in New Orleans in 1951.

De senectute…

Okay, it’s Latin, and it comes from Cicero in 44 BC. Basic translation? On old age.

As some wag noted, we’re all circling the same drain, some a little closer to the hole than others. I thought: what is the greatest challenge facing those in the advancement of old age? Answer: facing the advancement of old age. Note that, seven years ago when we first moved to our land, I built a 12 by 20 garage solo, from foundation to rafters, and later a 9 by 13 shed-roofed guest cabin bumped out from one long wall. My wife helped some, but she was nine-to-fiving working in the place we were renting. So it was mostly me. I did almost all of it. Could I ever do this again?

No chance. Ain’t gonna happen. Forget any specific ailments – most of us in our 70s have a few – it just ain’t in me. And likely as not, it’s not coming back. The thing is, I don’t mind. We’re done here – the place is finished. If something needs fixing or replacing, we’ll hire it out. I don’t mind.

Except I do lament the partial loss of those abilities, the strength and stamina. And I know plenty of people in their 70s whose strength and stamina are still intact and wouldn’t blink twice at building a 12 by 20 garage. I know who you are and I know where you live…

I think what it all comes down to is the power and persistence of memory. There’s real sustenance in memory, in thought. Strength. Stamina. The stuff we did that still lingers beyond the time that we did it. And from this we can build ideas, like the following…

Our country’s nooks and crannies…

Building anything demands an attention to detail, how planks line up, how corners look and how windows, hardware, skylights and flooring fit and seal. Easy to say, but also true, that we build our cabins and garages and homes and boats with far better care than we build our country. The U.S. is a patchwork of great works and shabbiness, and I admit I’ve been drawn more to its unattractive nooks and crannies than to its monuments of greatness powered by pride.

Like in Illinois: There’s a family of five in a creaky old sedan behind a McDonald’s getting out to pick through the dumpster for their dinner. Likewise behind a Shaw’s or Hannaford or Publix or Kroger or Fred Myers or Furr’s or Smiths scattered across the land – wherever food is tossed out and not donated to those who need it. There’s a young family at a Motel 6 in the parking lot with their eyes set on a room where a young couple is departing at midnight after a tryst and the couple leaves the door open and unlocked, perhaps in the tradition of this small, poor town, and the family moves in to finish off the night before leaving by 11 AM. No charge.

Beyond those who struggle are those who manage from okay to “just okay”, and when I was a more active and assertive photographer I wanted to capture their faces – always with their permission, often in exchange for a gift or donation. These folks are in their own nooks and crannies… From Idaho to Savannah, GA, here’s a sample (I have many dozens more):

The smell of the place

This country’s unusual niches include sources of surprise firing up other senses beyond sight and imagery. The olfactory sense is especially powerful, loaded with memory and meaning for most of us. Me? I would gladly trade the most delectable kitchen smell for a good whiff of moistened sage.

When the heroine of my novel STRING THEORIES first gets a whiff of sage after a rainfall, she’s blown away and says to her Mom —

“I swear it’s the prettiest thing that’s ever gone up my nose.”

Here it was again in Taos, the smell that could put a twist in your heart, for no other reason than it was beautiful.

I can say from my own experience you haven’t lived until you’ve smelled the rich pungency of sage after a rain or burst of melting snow, ideally on the road between Taos and Tres Piedras, NM, where the sage grows wide and strong and leafy, snagging large flakes of snow or morning dew. Astonishing what it does to your nose.

I do miss The Land of Enchantment – it still tugs. But it’s different now. More people, more homes crowding through the sage.

One foot out the door…

Two to go before wrapping it up. Thanks.



Ned White

About Ned White

Ned White is a writer, novelist, crossword puzzle constructor, traveler through 49 states, and at times a danger in the kitchen. He lives with his wife in South Thomaston.