April 1st – Banana Day

The City of Buentoille has been stuck in a monumental game of one-upmanship with an Outer Ocean trading company for seventy three years, a game that has caused the docks to be lumbered with thousands of crates of bananas on every first day of April since. There are far too many bananas for the City to reasonably eat before they moulder, and whilst many are frozen for the year ahead, there is usually a considerable surplus. Thankfully, folks have found a variety of less conventional ways to use the fruit.

There are various cooking competitions that take place across the City today, trying to find some new recipe that can use the bananas up. Many of these recipes involve an element of disguise; unsurprisingly, many Buentoillitants get sick of bananas very quickly, yet free food is free food. Milkshakes, cakes and pancakes are a very popular options, and in recent years a vegan food company has devised a way to make milk from them, although it is yet to catch on. Banana alcohols are often made but seldom drunk. Green bananas are sometimes pickled, though again this strange concoction usually sits in larders gathering dust. In 1989 a competitor at Angor Dilim’s Banana Cooking Competition invented a curry paste that had bananas and chillies as the primary ingredients, and it remains one of the most popular banana-based dishes to this day, probably because it somehow doesn’t taste like bananas.

The whole debacle first occurred in 1944 when a slightly overenthusiastic member of the Food and Nutrition Working Group (FNWG), Hamish Salinger, former lover of bananas, filled out an order form incorrectly and accidentally ordered fifty million bananas. Since the revolution the City sources most of its imported foods collectively, to increase bargaining power. The small mistake, an added couple of noughts, could have easily been rectified when he handed the form to the trading company and the clerk raised his eyebrows, ‘are you sure?’ Not one to lose face, Salinger replied, ‘yes, of course I’m sure!’

When the crates arrived at the start of the next month, everyone was taken aback, yet once again Salinger didn’t want to appear foolish in front of the trading company, whose sailors were quietly laughing at his expense. ‘You didn’t bring enough!’ He blurted, almost despite himself. ‘Next year you’ll have to bring more.’

‘Next year?’ Asked the merchant, looking highly amused, ‘what about next month?’

‘We won’t be having the festival next month,’ said Salinger, getting into the swing of this lying business now. The merchant knew of the City’s strange penchant for festivals, and suddenly it made a lot more sense. He nodded sagely to Salinger and promised to come back the following year with more. The following year yet more bananas were requested, and then more the year after. It seems that once the lie had started nobody wanted to lose face and reveal it, especially not to an outsider. Eventually the company found out, after which point they started adding on a few hundred each year, on top of the extra that FNWG officials request (now out of a sense of duty to tradition, more than anything else). ‘Free of charge,’ they say, revealing the extra crates, which are accepted with forced glee by the FNWG officials, neither side willing to own up that they know the other side knows. This year something in the region of one hundred million bananas are expected to land on the dock.

Of course, as most of the fruit simply cannot be eaten in time, it is used in a variety of other ways. In the most spectacular of these an estimated two million bananas are used as projectiles in the annual Banana Street Battle. Banana Street, named because of its curved nature rather than after the fight held there, was the obvious location of choice for this festival that was invented by the Union of Children (also known as The Guild of Children or Children’s guild, once two separate ‘gangs’ of children who eventually decided that they were stronger together) but now attracts Buentoillitants of all ages. The fight is clearly extremely messy, and fighters are warned to wear plastic overalls or clothes they would happily discard, as the banana paste goes black and hard, staining clothes once it oxidises. When the fight ends, the discarded bananas and skins are piled up in the streets and dived into like disgusting snow drifts by youngsters.

Practical jokes involving banana skins have become so tiresome that there are have been several suggestions to ban them outright, but this doesn’t stop a select few ‘jokers’. A more popular modern option is to leave a skinned banana on a person’s chair, bed or desk, naked and disconsolate. Even if the person on the receiving end of the joke does not sit on the mushy flesh, the mere placement is often considered funny in itself.

Today and the following weeks can by trying for those who dislike or are allergic to bananas. For this reason the Council of Logistics organises a number of nature retreats this week, as a matter of public safety. Concerns have been raised in the past surrounding potassium poisoning, and in response the MHS has issued very clear guidance that bananas cannot be eaten in great enough quantity to cause any health issues.

Other festivals happening today:

  • NO BANANAS HERE – A March to Repeal the Trade Deal
  • Intelligent Human/Computer Interface Research Day