Who doesn’t remember a loved one through food? The handwritten recipes, the process, the stories—and especially the tastes and smells—tap into corners of our visceral memory quite unlike anything else.
In a study published by the University of Illinois Press in The American Journal of Psychology (Spring 2002), researchers Herz and Schooler rather poetically declared:
“When from a long distant past nothing subsists… taste and smell alone—more fragile but enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful—remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest.”
Which naturally brings us to: banana cookies. I only knew my Grandma Meana for a few years when I was a girl, but I will never forget spending afternoons baking, smelling, and eating these uniquely Meana treats.
And you can bet that, every time I make them, I’ll tell my kids about the woman and the stories behind these cookies, too. Maybe some day, while the warm smell of banana hovers in the kitchen, they’ll do the same with their kids.
Angie: You’re gonna try making a soufflé again, aren’t you?
Clara: My mum’s soufflé. Yeah. Although this time I will get it right…
Artie: How can it be your mum’s soufflé if you’re making it?
Clara: Because, Artie, it’s like my mum always said: The soufflé isn’t the soufflé. The soufflé is the recipe.
By Meana Taylor
- 3 c flour
- 2 t baking powder
- 1 t baking soda
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 c white sugar
- 3/4 c shortening
- 1 t vanilla
- 1/3 c mashed bananas
- Preheat over to 350 F.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Cream together sugar and shortening in a large bowl.
- Mix in eggs, vanilla, and bananas.
- Mix in the dry ingredients you’ve set aside.
- Tablespoon balls of dough (slightly smaller than golf ball size) onto a greased cookie sheet.
- Flatten slightly with the bottom of a floured glass.
- Bake until you can see the bottoms lightly browning around the edges, about 10-12 minutes.
- Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
- Wait 5 minutes and transfer to a wire cookie rack to finish cooling.
To Freeze Now for Baking Later:
- Mix, sprinkle, ball, and flatten as directed above.
- Freeze on a flat surface, just until firm.
- Seal in a freezer bag.
- Thaw dough the night before you want to bake it.
- Bake as directed above.
You may also freeze the cooked cookies, though I personally prefer them warm, right out of the oven.