reserved space The Taste of Thailand - Cover photo taken at Damnoen Saduak  Bananas

Bananas are a very versatile fruit which can be eaten raw or cooked. There is a great variety of types of banana. Some are small like fingers; some are big, fat, perfume, very long with hundreds of seeds in them. Many people grow them in their gardens. They pick the fruits and pickle a kind of raw bananas. They use the flowers for salads or soup and the banana leaves for wrapping food up because, as well as making a good container, they give a good flavour to the food inside.

Bananas are used for curries as well as for sweets. A popular curry is eel curry with raw bananas. The traditional recipe for this curry has a secret ingredient which cannot be used any more. This curry used to contain chopped up cannabis leaves! Its flavour was quite unique. But about sixty years ago, the government became quite strict. They closed down the opium dens and the cannabis plants that used to be seen all over Thailand disappeared. Nowadays eel curry with chopped bananas doesn't taste quite the same.

A great many kinds of banana puddings are popular with all sorts of people. There are many ways of making banana puddings - for instance, banana fritters or roasted or grilled bananas which are sold along the lande, roads and in the markets. Bananas are also cooked in coconut cream and sugar syrup, steamed with glutinous rice, wrapped in banans leaves, preserved or dried.

When I went back home recently, I went to the north of Thailand with my husband, son and a group of friends. On the way we stopped at a village where every stall was laden with bananas. They were hanging everywhere and were sold in gigantic hands, made up of many bunches. They were extremely cheap and very fresh. Normally, though, we buy them in bunches.

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