What do little Italian men love most of all ?
Really though, what do you think ?
Perfume ? Pasta ? Wine…breadsticks…music…candlelight…Milan….
Well, no. I hate to break it to you, but the real way to the heart of a wee italian man is with BANANA BREAD. Yes, Petri, this one’s for you.
For the past month and a half (give or take), we’ve had the pleasure of hosting the famous Petri Dish in our apartment. I arrived in late August, mentally preparing myself for a semester of ESTROGEN when POP ! Out of nowhere this charismatic, loud, and endearing italiano appeared on the scene, fully moved in (yes, toothbrush and all). Skeptical at first (a who living in my what ?!), Petri quickly grew on me. He is a walking party and always greets me with a “Hello Lizzzzzz, how are you ?” spoken as if my answer is actually important (Petri, if it isn’t important, don’t tell me. I want to continue romanticising you).
It is slightly intimidating, living with an italian, because they cook so well. Sometimes, I would come home from class and the apartment would smell divine – Petri was making homemade vegetable broth, a smell I associate with home. (To my credit, I insisted on bay leaf usage. This little american lends a hand every now and then). I watched him make pasta, pasta, pasta, risotto, pasta, pasta and tiramisù. Being the fellow chef in the kitchen, it was fun to have some cooking banter flying about this college setting.
At one point, Petri revealed his love (obsession ?) with banana bread, which surprised me. Often, Europeans are “not convinced” of putting fruits/vegetables in quickbreads (carrots, zukes, sweet potato, banana, pumpkin…) as it just seems contrary to tradition. Or something.
I decided that before he left, I’d make him banana bread. I think it’s safe to say my bread passed muster. Pietro, we’re going to miss you ! Here’s the recipe I used (and perhaps you’ll woo an italian, too) !
Petri’s Banana Bread
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp cream (or buttermilk, or greek yogurt, or sour cream)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
Dash cinnamon/nutmeg/cloves. Just a sprinkle.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line the bottom of a standard loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside. I prepared two but only used one (not enough time to cook a double batch !)
Peel the bananas and place them in a large bowl. Mash with a fork (or a masher) until nice and squishy – it will look rather disturbing as a texture – you want the lumps no bigger than chickpeas.
Add the sugar and the oil to the mashed bananas, whisking to combine. I will admit, the batter for banana bread is probably the most disgusting thing you’ll ever see. Persevere, because it tastes awesome when cooked.
Add the eggs and vanilla, whisking again to incorporate.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir together to combine – you wouldn’t want random patches of baking soda, would you ? So give it a good stir.
Add the flour mixture and the cream (or dairy product of choice…) and mix well – the batter shouldn’t have any flour clumps hiding about.
Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1h20 minutes – it takes a long time to cook, but you’ll know it’s almost done when the top splits. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from the loaf pan.
Feed to your favorite [italian] housemate(s) and buon appetito ! :)