For the A TO Z CHALLENGE, I’m blogging for 26 days in April (except Sundays) based on the alphabet, and my theme is #foodiefiction, inspired mostly by the foods of Singapore.
G is for Goreng Pisang
I used to eat Goreng Pisang nearly every day, I don’t do that anymore.
I used to walk past one every morning on my way to work. It just so happened to be right behind the bus stop and you could smell it when the bus doors swing open. So to be standing there each morning waiting for the bus to arrive, it was pure torture.
Sure, I could have easily walked further down to the next bus stop to get away from it. But the weather is so hot these days, sure to sweat and sweat, and I don’t want to get to work all sweaty.
One day I didn’t just walk past the stall but stopped and bought a goreng pisang. I hadn’t had one in years, maybe the last time was when I was a teenager, before pimples and all that.
That crispy crunchy batter, the creamy soft and sweet banana within, it was such bliss, such a satisfying breakfast that from then on I gave up on my cereals that looked and tasted like cardboard and my sad rye bread slices.
And every morning I bought a fried banana from the goreng pisang stall behind the bus stop.
It was best when it was just out of the fryer. And only the first batch of the day was excellent. The rest were fine but there was something about that first batch. Whether it was the start of the day, the freshness of the oil or the batter, or just eating it in the cooler morning air, I couldn’t figure it out. But I was always the first customer, the one who got the pick of the goreng pisang.
At first the auntie who owned the stall would ask, “just one?”.
The next few times, she would ask me to try something other than the banana. Green bean patty? Yam? Sweet potato? Chempedak?
But no, those weren’t for me. It was called ‘goreng pisang’ after all, pisang of course being the banana. And I was a goreng pisang purist. It had to be only goreng pisang and the pisang had to be pisang raja, the best type of banana for cooking, with its sweet and custardy flesh.
After a while, she knew to just hand over my food and accept her money, no small talk needed.
I always made sure to finish my goreng pisang before my bus arrived. Once, my timing was off and I had to rush on board with my breakfast still in hand. No eating on the bus so I brought it into the office with me. That distinctive banana smell brought colleagues to my desk, and they were appalled by my breakfast of choice.
“Wah fried foods for breakfast!”
They sure had a lot to say about my humble and cheap breakfast.
Last Monday, I was late for work but stopped to grab my usual at the stall. But instead of the old woman, there was a young man who didn’t look like he belonged. He wore a black striped apron with a white tshirt underneath and looked like he should be working for Jamie Oliver.
He beamed and said, “good morning! Ah you’re my first customer! Goreng pisang right? Just one?”
I nodded. He must have seen the look on my face as he quickly added: “don’t worry. She had a fall from the bus the other day, hurt her foot but otherwise ok. I’m her nephew. I’m between jobs so I thought I’d come help out for a bit.”
He grabbed a hot goreng pisang then added, “how about I jazz it up? Add a little something to this? She said you always eat the same thing every morning, said I should watch out for you, that you’re her favourite customer, but that maybe you could try something different once in a while.”
I stared at him dumbfounded.
“I’m talking too much right? I should just give you your food, but here, let me do this!” he said as he drizzled some syrup on my goreng pisang.
I was aghast. How dare this young punk try to “jazz up” my breakfast! What was so wrong with eating the same thing every morning?
I didn’t know what to do. As you may guess I’m not the confrontational type and I just didn’t know what to say to him. I just grabbed the syrup-drizzled goreng pisang from his outstretched hand and was about to give him my $1 coin when he put his hands up and said, “it’s on the house today. I forced it on you. So you know what, if you like it, come back tomorrow and I’ll let you try something else. If not, just come back tomorrow anyway and I’ll give you your usual plain goreng pisang.”
You know what, I loved it. He had drizzled some maple syrup on it and oh it brought out the sweetness of the banana even more. But the genius had actually salted the batter more than his aunt’s recipe, and so there was a gentle extra hint more of salt to combat the maple syrupy goodness.
It was goreng pisang heaven.
But I never went back.
I never went past the stall anymore. I went out of my way to walk to the next bus stop, sweating all the way. With his one moment of culinary genius, he cleared my head, refreshed my palate and I no longer wanted to eat a plain goreng pisang anymore. I didn’t want any of his fancy concoctions either. It made me realize that I was missing so much.
And really, the guy just talked way too much.
Goreng pisang is fried banana. It’s also known as Pisang Goreng. Many Goreng Pisang stalls in Singapore sell not just fried bananas but other varieties dipped in batter and deep fried, like sweet potato and yam and green bean patties.