L. Musa sapientum, Eng. banana. It is first documented in 303 B.C. It is thought to be a native of Malaysia and SE Asia. In 79 A.D. Pliny not only praised the taste of the banana but stressed the importance of this food used by the old wise men of India. It was not widely known until the 19th C. but is mentioned in the Calendario de Córdoba in the 10th C. It is known that a variety of banana was brought to Spain by Ibn Bassal in the 11th C from India, which was cultivated as an ornament, Although not cultivated around Cordoba, Granada was famed to be the best producer. Benavides-Barajas claims that there are a few recipes for banana sweets in Al-Andalus but gives no references.
The banana contains more sugar than the majority of other fruits. It has the same value as wheat or rice in providing energy to the system. One hundred grams of fresh banana yield the same amount of calories as 100 gr. of meat. At the same time, it contains the 10 grs. of organic calcium like milk and cheese. It is calculated that an adult needs five grams daily to repair the vital functions of the body. It has a considerable amount of phosphorous that is vital for intelligence. It is also a source for fluoride, iron and iodine, which is essential against gout. It contains as much vitamin C, as other fruits, plus vitamin B6, vitamins D and E and potassium. Shortly after the discovery of America, it was exported from the Canary Islands to America.
Bananas are not mentioned in any of the medieval recipes reviewed by the Medieval Spanish Chef or in the 19th century recipes in the archives of the Baroness of Almiserat.
There are claims that the banana split was known in the Middle Ages but the
use of chocolate ice cream makes this doubtful as chocolate is a new world product.
Spanish bananas differ from American bananas as they are smaller and sweeter. Today, the best Spanish bananas are from the Canary Islands.
[Benavides-Barajas. Nueva-Clásica. 1995:264; Font. Plantas. 1999:671:948-950; and Usher. 1974:400-401]