The National Library of Australia has this publication dated at 1972, although other sources are less certain of the date. This book, distributed in Australia by the Banana Growers Association, is a collector’s item. It’s best known for the infamous Banana Candle recipe – essentially a banana inserted vertically in a pineapple ring, drizzled with mayonnaise and topped with a slice of cherry (see below).
Although just 64 pages long, this publication currently has an asking price of around $200. It’s a lot to pay to be shocked by hideous pictures and even more hideous recipes. A reviewer on Bookriot writes: “There are photographs in this book that will have you questioning the existence of God. There are pictures in this book that will make you burst into tears. Reading this book may put you off eating forever.” (I recommend reading the rest of this review, especially if you need cheering up.)
Another reader writes: “The National Board of Banana Farmers knew exactly what they were doing, showing us that bananas are far more than just a handheld snack. You can have bananas for breakfast, lunch AND dinner… banana sausages anyone? And yes, you can even create awesome, phallic place settings that are completely edible!”
Although it was distributed here by the growers’ Association, the book was originally produced for Fruit Distributors Limited, Banana Importers of Wellington, New Zealand and printed in Capetown, South Africa. Fruit Distributors Limited was an company set up to bulk buy imported fruit, including bananas from the Pacific Islands and oranges from Australia and the USA. Its shareholders were the major fruit merchants of New Zealand.
Sadly, there is no record of the photographer, the food stylist, the home economist or the art director. So we’ll probably never know who to blame for this exceptional piece of food publishing history.
Bananas in the ’50s too
Without the photography, they’re not quite so…um…impressive. But a couple of banana recipes from the Victorian Gas & Fuel Corporation’s Christmas recipe leaflet issued in 1952 sound just as dodgy as the candle. Would you believe Tomato and Banana Salad? Or how about Banana Meat Loaf? The meat loaf contains four whole bananas – two mixed in with the mince, bacon and seasonings and the other two placed on top before baking. Around this time there was something of a vogue for adding sweetness to savoury dishes. Usually the sweetness came from pineapple, but it seems the banana industry wanted a piece of the action too.