Also known as the “Elvis sandwich”, the peanut butter and banana sandwich is quite an iconic American food. Personally, I don’t like the idea. The peanut butter and banana combo makes sense to me but putting both between slices of bread, grilled, fried or otherwise, just doesn’t appeal to my palate.
If I were to eat peanut butter and bananas together, it would be as a dessert. Like the banana spring rolls with toffee and peanut butter sauce. Or something as simple as this.
Sliced ripe and sweet bananas smothered with gooey peanut butter.
But there’s another reason why I took these photos and posted them here.
KIPlog, the oldest food blog still active on the web, points to a New York Times article, “Food Photography: How to Shoot Ugly Food” by Andrew Scrivani. Although it is arguable whether there is such a thing as “ugly” food, I will conceded that some food do look plain or unappetizing or both.
Food appreciation, to be quite honest, consists of three things. It starts with visual appeal. What the eyes perceive as inviting food is sent to the brain as a message that it looks delicious and is probably delicious. The second factor is association. Take the peanut butter and banana combination, for instance.
You’ve had peanut butter as a child and you liked it. You’ve had bananas as a child too and you liked them. All your life you’ve been eating peanut butter and bananas because the exercise transports you back to your childhood. You associate them with fun carefree days and the comfort of home. That’s really why comfort food is the most delicious. That is why most of us believe that there’s nothing better than our mothers’ cooking even if our mothers were, by strict culinary standards, mediocre cooks.
The third factor is the actual mouth experience. I won’t say taste buds because eating involves more than the taste buds. Food is about texture as much as it is about flavors.
I like to think that I don’t “eat with my eyes” but I wonder if that’s really true. I can’t eat peanut butter and bananas the way Speedy does — he peels a banana and, while holding it whole, he spoons peanut butter on one end, bite, spoons more peanut butter on the bitten end, takes another bite, and so on, and so forth, until he has eaten the whole banana.
And I can’t do that. But if the bananas were sliced and the peanut butter spooned over them like so, they’re suddenly appealing.
Although I don’t think I will ever subscribe to the philosophy that food presentation is as important as the food itself, I do agree that it does help whet the appetite if food LOOKS good too.