Aside from the international distress and anguish brought by the onset of the Coronavirus, covid-19 has also spawned some unlikely social media trends- I’m looking at you ‘Until Tomorrow’ challenge. But, it seems that only one fruity dessert has been able to surpass the amount of home workout videos (please, stop btw) which have dominated my social media feeds since international lockdown began. What is it about a global pandemic which gets everyone reaching for the nearest loaf tin to bake some banana bread?
With us all confined to spending much more time in our homes, resigned to grocery shops only when essential and well, bored, it’s no surprise that a lot of us have been experimenting with our culinary skills out of a mixture of boredom, fear and procrastination. But, there’s one sweet treat in particular which has quickly become the standout star of quarantine cooking and that is, my old friend, banana bread.
Not to sound like someone who listened to a band before they got famous, but like, I actually made banana bread pre-coronavirus. I know. Hey, remember those times? How wild. Anyway, for those like me, the simple act of making our favourite banana bread recipe takes us back to better times as the smell of cinnamon (don’t you put cinnamon in yours?) infiltrates our kitchens and our hearts. In a time when we feel disconnected from our loved ones, this relatively easy-to-master recipe has unwittingly provided a way for us to reconnect. We make it whilst Zooming our friends, stopping to call our mums to confirm baking times all while reading from a recipe written by our grandparents.
Of course this isn’t the case for everyone, for some this has been the first foray into the world of banana bread. For those, it offers a different kind of solace, a connection, not necessarily to loved ones, but to everyone- to those that we may not even know. Providing us a sense of optimism as we share our same same but different loaf pictures on Instagram, by reminding us that we are all going through the same fucked up situation together, banana bread and all.
Banana bread is accessible, my recipe includes just 5 ingredients, and importantly in these freaky-ass times, unwasteful. It maintains frugality while still being delicious enough to brighten up the monotony of another day in your flat. It’s this balance which has helped banana bread become the queen of the gram in recent weeks. It’s one of the few luxuries still acceptable in a time when nobody knows what to do for right, and is terrified of being seen to do wrong. Two walks a day? Bad. Online shopping? We’re still on the fence. Banana bread? Good.
Our current penchant for banana bread is also a perfectly baked reflection (if left in a preheated oven at 180 for 40 minutes) of the turbulence of these times. The fluctuation we all face on a weekly, daily and, let’s be honest, sometimes hourly basis. For me, some days begin with fresh bananas. I wake up without that sudden yet familiar ache of sadness in my chest and feel something close to optimism. I might stretch, or even workout to a video of some hot girl with 18 abs on YouTube. I feel healthy, I feel, dare I say, happy? Something might happen, maybe I spill my coffee, maybe I read too much of the news, maybe nothing happens, but eventually the day changes and so do I. The bananas are past their peak now, their peel quickly becoming mottled and black. I want to hug my grandma, I want to drink wine with friends, I really, really want to pet dogs I see on the street. I long for the comforts of my old life from four weeks ago.
Instead I bake banana bread, seeking comfort in its sweetness and oven-baked warmth. And in the fact that my friends, and some girl I went to school with, and an actor from that show I liked on Netflix are all doing the same. We’re in it together. Coronavirus has wrongly been referred to by short-sighted politicians as ‘the great equaliser’, this is of course not true. But perhaps banana bread is.