Banana: enigmatic and unclassifiable
The banana is not strictly speaking a fruit since its small black seeds cannot be used to reproduce the fruit. The banana tree is not a tree either because it produces no wood, but is in fact the world’s biggest grass plant, spreading through underground rhizomes. The banana has no seasons, but produces “fruit” year-round even if the original plant produced no fruit at all and had sterile flowers. The “miracle” of very nutritional and tasty “hands of bananas” sprouting from the plant occurred in South-East Asia during the Neolithic age, probably in Indonesia, but this evolutionary transformation remained an enigma for ancient botanists who called it Musa Paradisiaca, the muse fallen from the heavens. Since it had no seeds, its transposition (or perhaps transmutation) to Central America and Africa also remains a mystery, generating all sorts of sometimes outlandish theories, including the separation of the continents, unknown contacts between ancient civilizations and even extra-terrestrials. Having arrived in Europe quite late, at the end of the 19th Century, since it had to be ripened in highly controlled conditions, it became, along with coconuts and grapefruits, the most fashionable fruits of the Belle Époque in the Thirties in France, with the American cabaret star, Joséphine Baker appearing on the stage of the Folies-Bergères wearing only a skirt made of bananas.