Food Fights: Your Bananas
Welcome to Food Fights week. For those who didn’t read Monday’s post or folks who have no interest in going back to refresh their memory this is the salient thing to remember:
Sometimes I can be a really nice guy. But other times I encounter something so upsetting to me that I can feel the vein in my forehead start to throb. And I know the best course of action is to just to stop, take a deep breath, and let it go.
But. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It.
These things are often about food, and to someone else they may seem entirely trivial or insignificant. Today I want to shed some light on a recent example of this. Two weeks ago a tweet that came across my screen from someone who I truly admire and respect, Christina Davis of the From Scratch Club. It was about ice cream.
Now the idea here isn’t to rake her over the coals. In fact it’s just the opposite. I already did more damage than I intended. Rather I hope to show how little things drive me bonkers, and perhaps provide a bit more context to why a loose turn of phrase got under my skin.
Not only do I have some strong thoughts on ice cream in general, but I’ve also had it a lot on the brain lately: I’m mulling over the Tour de Hard Ice Cream and moments before I saw the offending tweet, I had sent a note to A Professor’s Wife proclaiming the superiority of The Snowman’s hard product over Guptill’s less than stellar soft serve.
With all of this context in mind here is what Christina wrote:
Pre-bathtime surprise for Miles on this 90+degree day in Upstate NY (!!!!) Ice cream made soley from bananas http://instagr.am/p/Jf8Ps9lwwr/
Impossible. It can’t be done. There is no ice cream without cream. Period. If you are making some sort of sweet frozen confection out of just bananas, you are not making ice cream, but rather something else. I might call it a frozen fruit puree. But to make it more fun others have called it a Banana Whip. You can even buy a branded machine to do this, which is called yonanas.
The yonanas website cleverly claims it, “Looks and tastes like soft serve ice cream.” Now that is an unimpeachable statement. It’s not claiming to be ice cream, but rather that it shares some similar traits. Plus soft serve ice cream is full of so much dreck anyhow, I’m much less protective of its identity.
Ice cream, on the other hand, is under attack. If you don’t believe me, look at the ingredients of the carton in your freezer. Should you stock your home with Häagen-Dazs, you can skip that last step, because they are one of the few remaining hold outs that don’t pump their product full of gums, starches, thickeners, and stabilizers. Even the once pristine Breyer’s has changed its formulation.
When I replied to Christina, my intent wasn’t to attack her. Rather, it was to defend ice cream. My tone in this was driven by how inflammatory I found the claim. So this is what I said:
For shame! Frozen banana mush may be delicious and even “creamy.” But ice cream it is not!
I didn’t think it was harsh, and there was a bit more back and forth, but when Christina characterized it as such I apologized and tried to lighten it up a bit in a playful way. Maybe the nuance of my intentions didn’t translate to Twitter.
Sorry it felt harsh, but even with magical princess fairy powers you cannot make ice cream w/only bananas.
When I say the above in my own voice, it still makes me chuckle. What I was completely insensitive to was the fact that she was making this for her son who I now know is deathly allergic to almost everything. Maybe she told me that before. Perhaps she’s written about it. But I’m terrible with remembering details of other people’s lives. This (among other reasons) is why I never went into sales.
And I can scarcely imagine how difficult it is to raise a child with such a condition.
And I recognize the need to be creative.
And I do empathize.
But it’s still not ice cream.
There’s a difference in telling a little white lie to your sick kid by calling something ice cream that isn’t, and having a food blogger proclaim to the world that they’ve made ice cream using solely bananas. And if I come across other people making similar claims, I’ll continue to hold the line.
But do you want to hear the funny thing? I decided to take Christina’s advice and try it.
So I bought a bunch of bananas and let two of them get over ripe. Then I peeled, sliced, and froze the banana segments. Figuring this would be better with a little fat, I pulsed the frozen banana in the food processor and added a tablespoon of peanut butter. Lo and behold, the fruit did indeed morph into a semi-frozen mass that bore more than a passing resemblance to ice cream.
It didn’t have the same mouth feel as ice cream as it was starchy and not truly creamy. But it was sweet, and cold, and Little Miss Fussy loved it. Young Master Fussy however wasn’t convinced. To be fair, Little Miss Fussy goes bananas for bananas. They are generally a forbidden fruit, as they tend to fiercely constipate her. But I made an exception in this case.
This frozen banana puree is not a bad thing to do with your over ripe bananas. In fact, as the weather warms up, I may find myself making it again. Especially since I’m turning away from ice cream, and looking for tasty no-cholesterol alternatives. I may even mix in walnuts next time.
So Christina, thank you for bringing this tasty treat into my life. I totally get where you were coming from. 140 characters failed me. Hopefully this provided a bit more context. It’s nothing personal, ice cream is just very special stuff and I’m protective of its identity. But I’m glad your little one has something cold and sweet to get him through the summer.
[FLB Note: Knowing that this post was coming, Christina sent me the following by email which is published in its entirety. For what it's worth, I think most of this is covered in the above post.]
This story starts with a simple photo of my 3 year old son that I posted on Instagram & Twitter on April 16th, that one mega-hot spring day a few weeks prior. Well, the picture depicts a very hot 3 year old, naked, eating a cup of banana ice cream right before his bath. The rub, as I understand it, is that I used the term ‘ice cream’ in the title of said picture: Pre-bathtime surprise for Miles on this 90+ degree day in Upstate NY (!!!!!) Ice cream made soley from bananas.
You see, my son has a life-threatening allergy to proteins in cow, sheep & goat’s milk, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, peas and sesame. He can’t have regular ice cream, so his ‘version’ was made of frozen bananas, sunbutter, cocoa powder and chocolate chips and a dash of hemp milk. Miles understands, as well as he can at 3, that he can’t have traditional ice cream and that many, many foods can make him ill, but his face lights up a room when you present him with his very own ‘special’ ice cream. Really, that’s all that matters.
Funny thing, no one called me out for spelling solely wrong but boy did The Professor come down on me like a ton of bricks for using the term ‘ice cream’. I say now, as I said on Twitter: give a food allergy mom a break. -Christina, Editor & Founder, From Scratch Club