Bendik and Rakel – a love story – of sorts

Unlike my paternal grandfather, I love bananas.

Grandpa Bendik was born to a farming family in Førde, Norway, in 1881. He had a sweetheart, Rakel, on a nearby farm and they wanted to marry. But Grandpa wasn’t satisfied with what he could offer his intended, so he set sail for America to better himself.

As the story goes, the first thing he saw when he landed was a vendor selling bananas. Unfamiliar with the fruit, he failed to peel it before chomping through the tough outer skin. He spit it out and never touched the ‘foul stuff’ again.

This tale has a happy ending. He found work, went home, married Rakel, and brought his new bride to the land of the free. They bought land and built a house in northern Minnesota where they raised twelve children. Number seven was my father.

It’s too bad Grandpa didn’t give bananas another try, although they probably weren’t readily available in northern Minnesota in the early 1900’s. But by 1950, when I was born, they were, and from first taste I was hooked.

Bali has at least forty-two different varieties of bananas and I am addicted to pisang merah, the red ones.

Pisang goreng was one of the first things I ate upon my arrival eight years ago. This isn’t just a naked banana plopped in hot oil. It’s a naked banana, sliced and dipped in batter, then plopped in hot oil, fried, and served with palm sugar and sometimes, if you’re lucky, grated fresh coconut and ice cream.

I’ve never attempted to make them myself…until today. There are two reasons for that:

  • I didn’t know how
  • They’re like dessert, something I rarely eat

This morning I stared at six ripe-and-ready red bananas sitting on my countertop. I cannot – will not – waste a single molecule of that precious fruit! There exist many varieties of red bananas and they’re not created equal. The uber sweet, custardy ones that make me drool are grown on a different part of the island and are not easy to find in Ubud.

As I pondered their perfect readiness wondering how many I could eat before they went bad, another thought materialized. What about pisang goreng?

I obsessed while I journaled, while I yoga-ed, while I meditated, while I dressed, and finally succumbed to temptation.

Google had a recipe. It called for flour. You may recall my hazardous attempt to make naan with banana flour and yeast. That’s still the only kind of flour I have on hand. But this recipe used baking power as its leavening agent so I thought…maybe…red bananas…fried in banana flour batter…why not?

Oh, people!

Even now, hours later, after eating way too many of them, I get a severe case of drools just thinking about the crunchy outside and the buttery sweet inside of my red banana goreng.

I dipped them in palm sugar while they were still warm. The first one I ate with a fork. After that…the fork was way too slow.

I want you to note that I now have two back-to-back culinary successes to my credit. Not to appear overly confident or anything, but I may be on a roll. It’s too bad Grandpa isn’t here to try my banana ambrosia. I think even his pure Scandinavian taste-buds would do a happy dance.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stevecastley
    Jul 04, 2020 @ 14:29:18

    Oh Sherry, 2 successes in a row. Stay on this roll. Do not attempt a sponge, but instead try for boiled sweet potato smothered in butter, slat and pepper. You won’t go wrong. Then again… Loved the blog, by the way. Hugs. Steve

    Liked by 1 person


  2. stevecastley
    Jul 04, 2020 @ 14:29:59

    That was salt not slat!



  3. Diane Struble
    Jul 04, 2020 @ 14:54:01

    Congratulations!  They sound heavenly. I would prefer with ice cream and coconut but plain would be fine as well.  You are on a roll.  What is next?

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Gail
    Jul 04, 2020 @ 19:00:07

    They look delicious, Sherry. I might have to wipe you as one of my totally non-cooking friends. You are becoming way too good!

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Marlys Gall
    Jul 05, 2020 @ 08:56:56

    With all the good cinnamon and nutmeg available in Bali, hope you sprinkled a bit on those yummy fritters!

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person


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