Fried bananas!

I don’t know why, but the idea of fried bananas for dessert intrigues me. I’ve had fried plantains at a local restaurant, but never fried bananas.

Then there’s the surprise of it, Dragon tossing three whole bananas—peels and all—into the fry pan. The pan’s got a shallow pool of olive oil on the bottom, some of it left over from frying up his wife’s, Irene’s, handmade chicken potstickers, the rest Dragon adds for the bananas.

Frying time’s maybe 10 minutes, no longer. Dragon turns the bananas every couple minutes, reveals the peels browning against the skillet’s sizzling bottom.  He uses a pair of long chopsticks for the turning, the hot olive oil hissing, popping, and spitting hither and yon.

We’re on Armchair Beach, don’t worry about the olive oil making a mess, the drudgery of wiping down stove and counter tops a non-issue. To my way of thinking (and notable lack of kitchen cleaning drive), frying bananas is strictly an outdoor activity.

When the browned peels split apart, dessert’s ready. Pull the peels apart, expose the innards, and dig in. That’s what we do, dig in, the hot bananas sweet and pudding soft. Besides being a tasty treat, bananas also are chock full of potassium, an important electrolyte. 

Potassium has lots of health benefits, among them preventing / treating cramps. Been more than once my legs have cramped after a long, hard paddle. Downing a banana before a paddle often helps. Anyway, eat a banana, fried or not, before heavy exercise if you’ve got a history of cramping.

Didn’t eat a banana before tonight’s paddle from Bruno’s to Armchair Beach, didn’t need to as it turns out, the paddle easy going. A tired breeze at our backs, a mild case of bow-bounce on the water as far as The Sisters. Paddling in the lee of China Camp to Armchair from The Sisters, we’re on mirror-smooth water, breeze free.

Might’ve been sloppy writing, but a few readers sauntered away from last week’s paddle report thinking a beaver-gnawed tree destroyed Dragon’s kayak on a Thurseve paddle. Not so! To clarify: a beaver-gnawed tree destroyed Dragon’s kayak during a 12-day paddle he took down the Sacramento River. His wasn’t a Thurseve outing.

Sitting around his propane camp stove on Armchair Beach eating fried bananas, Dragon tells me another close-call tale that doesn’t happen on a Thurseve paddle.

Here’s the Clif Notes version of Dragon’s tale: He meets an older fellow who’s retiring from kayaking. Coincidentally, the fellow’s recently purchased a fancy kayak, which he now wants to sell. Dragon takes the boat out for test run. He uses the spray skirt the fellow’s selling with the boat.

“That spray skirt didn’t look right, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong,” says Dragon. During his test paddle, Dragon tries an Eskimo Roll, but it’s not to be. “I couldn’t roll up the boat, so I tried a wet exit, but the spray skirt wouldn’t pull off the cockpit’s coaming.”

Dragon says he swallows a barrel full of water before freeing himself. Turns out the pull strap on the spray skirt’s in the wrong place for this particular boat. “I shoulda used my own spray skirt, but …“ the fellow selling the boat feels so bad about what’s happened, he knocks down the boat’s price and throws in a bunch of extra kayaking gear, spray skirt included.

Dragon buys the kayak, but leaves the spray skirt behind.

Dragon’s tale might discourage folks who’ve never kayaked from trying the sport. Segueing into a similar meme while eating the last of our fried bananas, Dragon’s surprised more experienced paddlers don’t paddle Thurseves. “I’ve asked a few,” he says, “and they worry about paddlin’ in the dark.”

To all you potential Thurseve kayakers, there’s nothing to fear. Think about a beaver-gnawed tree falling on a kayak in the woods with no one around to see it. Does the falling tree crush the kayak? Now think about paddling across a shipping channel in the dark. Is the freighter really there?

Our potassium levels topped off, we paddle back to Bruno’s. No wind, no bow-bounce, no freighters, lots of dark.


Date: Thurseve, 8 October 2020.

Distance: Six point six nautical miles.

Speed: One point nine knots.

Time: Three point five hours.

Spray factor: Nothing to write home about.

Dessert: Fried bananas.