WorldTeach volunteer Rachael Turken has been living with a family in Riobamba, Ecuador since early October. Although Ecuador is a leading producer of bananas, she was surprised to find that her family had never tasted banana bread and decided to spend the day baking a loaf for them. Read on as she tells this great story of baking, friendship, and the cultural exchange that goes on even outside the classroom. Thanks for sharing, Rachael!
Well, well, well. You would think that a family that lives in a country who is one of the top banana producers in the world would have had banana bread before. Go figure . . . my host family had not. So, I took it upon myself (with some help) to bake pan de banano (banana bread) for my family this past week. It was a hit! It was gone in a little over a day.
Making pan de banano ended up being quite an ordeal. I needed help with both the measurements and with using the oven. My host mom, Fanny, and our amazing empleada, Maria, were part of Team Pan de Banano. You can see a picture of them enjoying the treat after it was cooked – Fanny is on the left and Maria is on the right. Also, I must mention that there are several baking modifications that must be made when cooking at higher altitudes – for example 9,000 feet – that was interesting too!
As Fanny and I measured out the ingredients, Maria stood with a hand mixer and took charge of blending everything. After mixing all of the ingredients, I tasted it and noticed that it was a bit buttery. Hmph. I reread the recipe and noticed that we added too much butter. I was concerned that the recipe would not turn out correctly, however it ended up just fine. And, I suppose if you are going to add too much of anything in a recipe, butter is one of the tastier options.
You may be wondering what I meant by needing help with using the oven. First off, let me tell you that I know how to use an oven in the U.S. What I don’t know is how to use a gas oven that needs to be hooked up and has no temperature gauge. Check it out in the picture. Also, the oven is located at my host grandmother’s house in a back room – not attached to the house. This means we walked two blocks to the oven while carrying unbaked pan de banano over to grandmother’s house (should we sing that together?). Thank goodness for Maria because she moved the gas tank over to the oven, attached it, and lit the oven. Then we waited for 20 minutes for it to heat up. Next, we put the pan in the oven and waited for 40 minutes for it to cook. The time was just a guess, of course, because Maria had no idea what it was supposed to look like and I had no idea what temperature the oven was set on. I must admit though, even though we sat in the little room for most of the 60 minutes, it was great to chat with Maria and get to know one another better. Besides, I absolutely adore Maria!
Surprisingly, the treat turned out fabulous! Yay! We carried it home with newspaper hot hands (we had no oven mitts – so we used the next best thing) and brought it into the house as it was piping hot. We cut into it right away!