OF BANANA BREAD
there is not a lot of hard evidence, when looking at the history
of banana bread, there are three things to consider:
breads (no yeast)
first breads probably originate from Neolithic times, some
12,000 years ago. This was a very primitive bread probably
made from stone crushed grain mixed with water and cooked
on hot stones and covered with hot ashes. The Egyptians probably
discovered around 4,000 BC that wheat dough ferments (think
sourdough), thus forming gases, producing a lighter more
pleasant eating and tasting loaf.
Banana originated in South-east Asia (probably on the Malaysian
archipelago) and spread from India, to the Philippines,
New Guinea, etc. It was cultivated by about 2,000 BC, but these
people were rice eaters, and wheat was unknown there, so breads
were not part of their culture.
(a Greek naturalist philosopher) around the Fourth
century BC, in what is probably the first scientific book
on botany, describes the banana plant. We know that the Greeks
made bread with honey, spices and fruits around the time of
Pliny (23 to 79 AD), and we also know that Pliny had
knowledge of the banana (he also described them in 77 AD).
So could the Greeks have made any banana bread? A possibility,
they made bread and had bananas.
flat breads (non-leavened) were made throughout the
Middle East as early as 7,000 BC - but did they have bananas?
Probably not until much later.
banana bread recipes for the most part are 'quick breads'
. . . that is leavened with baking powder.
breads (chemically leavened) which most banana bread
recipes are, were not developed until the end of the Eighteenth
century. This took place in America, where pearlash was discovered.
is a refined form of potash, and it produces carbon dioxide
gas in dough. In 'American Cookery' (1796) which was
the first American cook book, Amelia Simmons published recipes
using pearlash. Around this time America was also recorded
as exporting around 8,000 tons of pearlash to Europe. But
Amelia Simmons has no specific recipe for banana bread.
powder was not developed commercially until 1857 (phosphate
baking powder). So the banana bread as we know it (a
quick bread) could have been first made in America in
the Eighteenth century when housewives discovered pearlash
as a chemical leavening agent.
making one for yourself then try our Banana
Bread recipe . . . with Walnuts.
article is from Chef James Ehler of Key West, Florida.
is a webmaster, cook, chef, writer and (like me) a self-confessed
computer nerd. He is the former executive chef of Martha's
Steak & Seafood Restaurant and the former Reach Hotel (both
in Key West), the Hilton Hotel in Fayetteville, Arkansas,
and the New Bern Golf and Country Club, North Carolina.
is now webmaster and cook at the Blue Heaven Restaurant in
Key West while he works on his Food Encyclopedia (five years
so far). It is well worth paying a visit to James' food reference
website which is a useful resource well worth Bookmarking
- to visit either website just click on their title:
Food Reference Website
Blue Heaven Restaurant, Key West, Florida
you want to contact James just email him by clicking
James T. Ehler, 2001
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