Many years ago, 40 years ago to be precise, I worked on the kibbutz Bet Tzera, where my job was to flick off the little black tips at the ends of each of the bananas. (Actually each banana is called a finger because the earlier versions were small. The arabic word for finger is banan.) The black pointed tips would eventually flower taking energy and size from the fruit, so for the most delicious and largest harvest, flicking off the flower ends was a necessity. (The large purple drooping bud is also cut off.) Everytime I have shared this story, people have been in disbelief about the ends flowering and have said, as if it were conclusive evidence, that they have never seen a black point on the end of a banana. “That’s because someone has flicked them off,” I always respond, thinking this conclusive proof as well.
I remember getting up very early in the morning, before dawn, making a cup of tea in the common kitchen, and heading out to the banana fields. I was shocked at first at really how short the banana trees were (actually not a tree, but the world’s largest herb). It was only later that I learned that the plants are new each year, from suckers that grow from the previous generation. (Bananas these days do not produce seed.) But how perfect for me being all of 62 inches. After moving down the rows, flicking off the ends, we would break about 9:00 or 10:00, get back to the kibbutz where we drank heartily from either of two fountains located on either side of the door to the common kitchen–a regular cold water one or one that ran seltzer. The seltzer one quenched best. Then we had a big breakfast, before a well-deserved nap.
OK, so here is the proof (photo above). Here are bananas with black ends intact, apparently post flowering, in the greenhouses at the Botanic Gardens. After I took this photo, I made sure to point this out to JB.
“You show this to me every year.”
“I know. I just wanted to make sure.”
“And the year before that and the year before that…”
Sometimes the “tails” of bananas need to be told and flicked many times.