Banana Apple Bread with Chocolate chips
- Angie Torres

Here’s what you need:  

½ cup shortening           

2 eggs                          

½ cup of sugar            

½ cup brown sugar                                                     

3 bananas mashed                                                       

1 small apple, grated  

1 pinch of salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups of flour

For the topping... (optional)
½ cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of butter or margarine
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
 3/4 cups pecans/walnuts
(I hate nuts, so there isn’t any on here)

Throw some chocolate chips in there too. It doesn’t really matter how creative!! Maybe add some walnuts or M&M’s...whatever!


Blend shortening, eggs, sugars, and fruit together. Mix salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour together; add to fruit mixture. Bake 45 minutes in greased and floured loaf pan.

For topping:

Combing brown sugar, nuts butter and cinnamon together in a saucepan. Cook until sugar dissolves. Spread on top of bread and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. After 55 minutes check by sticking a toothpick in the middle. If the toothpick comes out clean, its done. If not, bake for another 5 or 10 minutes.  

            As a child growing up in the Bronx, I was subject to a mixing of cultures and various tastes. My grandmother, having grown up in a convent in Puerto Rico, raised me strictly and virtuously. My mother, having been born and raised in New York, was a true Nuyorican. I never fully learned much about my past because both my grandmother and mother felt that education was of the highest importance. Therefore they pushed me in school and never really taught me how to appreciate my culture.

            When starting this project I thought, “Hey, what a great way to get back to my culture.” But once again I was foiled. I could find none of the ingredients for the classic Puerto Rican dishes that I attempted to make. I wandered Albany’s markets for days in search of such ingredients as yuca and green bananas only to find a pasty and bruised version of what I used to know. Goya is about as diverse at it gets at Price Chopper, or any other of the local markets. I realized during my many excursions what a privilege it is to be able to walk into a store and find the ingredients you need to make dinner.

            So, I started from the drawing board. I couldn’t make any classic Puerto Rican dishes, but I could certainly make some classic Nuyorican dishes, and Bananas, being inexpensive and easy an easy fruit to find, became my best option. As a child I remember eating steamed green bananas, fried yellow bananas, roasted little brown bananas, and a variety of other lovely dishes. I remember eating banana bread, banana chips, and banana juice.

            For me, part of the cooking process is the ability to surprise yourself. Don’t just mimic other dishes, make them your own. So I decided to make a banana bread, something from my childhood, but I also decided to improvise with the recipe. I added some extra stuff, took some stuff out and Voíla! A creative piece for you to eat!

Know What You Eat...

            By the 1890's bananas had become plentiful in the U.S. due to the brilliant system of steamships railroads, and refrigeration created by United Fruit. Port Limón was the Birthplace of the United Fruit company, which would later become one of the largest direct employers in the province, not only growing bananas, but also manila hemp and cocoa. The earliest workers traveled from Jamaica and others followed from other places in the Caribbean. Chinese merchants set up pulperias (corner stores) and cantinas (bars) in Port Limón and by 1913 the city’s population increased tenfold reaching over 7,000.

            In the U.S. bananas become popular for a multitude of reasons. They took the place of seasonal fruits and were available year round as well as inexpensive. They also met new concerns over sanitation, public health, and nutrition. The banana was publicized as being fruit in a germ proof wrapper. Interestingly, the banana became known as a “woman’s fruit” and was largely marketed to women as the consumers, buyers, and preparers of bananas as a sweet, dainty fruit both plump and creamy and an excellent aid in dieting. In 1945 Chiquita banana, modeled after Carmen Miranda, made her first appearance in an advertisement where she sang to an exhausted housewife that a banana a day will help you your best. An advertisement published in 1977 depicted three women, two that were quite heavy, and the third thin woman was standing on a scale and holding a banana. The caption read, “Waist not, Want not.” At only 101 calories and containing no cholesterol, the banana was considered a perfect snack to help keep the weight down. The United Fruit company also promoted bananas as an inexpensive substitute for meat, claiming that a glass of milk and a banana was a complete meal.

            Today bananas are still largely available in the U.S. as a direct result of the mistreatment of the plantation workers in areas such as Costa Rica. Port Limón remains the main exporter of bananas. Plantations have continued to employ harsh working conditions, to deny rights to many of their workers, and to poison the environment around them. Having employed thousands of migrant workers, many remain illegal and are therefore subject to many degrading working conditions such as low salaries, poor housing conditions, exposure to harmful chemicals such as pesticides, malnutrition, and finally the subjugation of black mail by police and other officials due to the workers status as illegal immigrants.

            Women immigrant workers, in addition to these dilemmas, also face sexual harassment and rape, often from the overseers of the plantation and to refuse means job loss. They are often single mothers who carry out long work hours and do not have adequate protection from the pesticides used by the plantation. Underage workers are also hired illegally, and face similar repercussions.

            The consumers of Europe and North America want big, yellow, picturesque bananas. Of course these bananas are not natural, and therefore, to provide these beautiful bananas the use of many chemicals is warranted, including pesticides and fertilizers. These chemicals are not only dangerous for the workers, but also for the environment. As the creation of these plantations has also spurred deforestation, even in areas where river run-off can occur. In short, the pesticides and chemical being used to beautify our bananas are running off into the rivers negatively affecting those who inhabit the area.

            These issues are not far from home. They are present in the foods you eat, in the products you buy, and in the way you live your life. This is a feminist issue because it is about inequality and mistreatment. It is a feminist issue because it involves injustice. Every time you eat a banana, remember who died, who labored, and who helped to create that beautiful, cosmetically enhanced fruit.