A friend and I did a charity bike ride recently, and at the first refreshment break, in a village hall en route, the sponsors had laid on food and drink. There were packets of crisps, cakes, bread rolls, cheese, water set out in large plastic barrels, potato salad, quiches of all varieties, and bananas. We looked at all the food, thought it was a bit early for lunch, and set off again. An hour and a half later, when we arrived back for the second refreshment break, in the same hall, there was plenty of everything left. Except for the bananas. And only one packet of crisps, Prawn Cocktail flavour. I don’t know what that says about Prawn Cocktail flavouring, but there it is.
‘No bananas!’ exclaimed my companion, declaring that he had been looking forward to a banana for the three hours we had already been cycling. I looked at the trestle tables (in the village hall of Barrow, in Suffolk), which were groaning, as trestle tables do, with the weight of replenished plates and bowls of salad, cheese, new potatoes and bread rolls. I started to pile food high on a plate, satisfied with what was in front of me. My friend looked at one of the many helpers who had volunteered their time for the day. ‘No bananas?’ he asked.
‘All gone,’ she shook her head. ‘Gone?’ ‘Gone,’ she confirmed. ‘We had hundreds earlier. You should have taken one.’ ‘But I didn’t want one then,’ he groaned. He peered underneath the tables, as if hoping to find something overlooked. Then he walked around forlornly until, finding nothing, he grabbed a handful of cakes and skulked off to sit in a corner. ‘Not to worry,’ I said as I joined him, cramming some quiche and half a bread roll into my mouth, ‘You’ve always got those Power bars. And jelly beans. And cakes.’ He stuffed one of several mini muffins into his face. ‘I know,’ he said, ‘but I wanted bananas.’ This true story, slightly embellished, illustrates a point – that the banana has a reputation for being a superfood. Tennis players eat them between games, marathon runners survive on them. And so it seems do cyclists. So what is it about the banana that inspires sports men and women to consume them in their thousands at runs and races all over the world? And what other foods are there that have a similar potential to give us the energy we need to stumble, or occasionally roar, over the finishing line?
Guest blog post written for the web site suffolkfoodie