Banana Leaf

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

banana leaf a material of great use to cooks in the tropics, is used to wrap up many foodstuffs in the markets, and again in the kitchen, in almost all the regions where the banana grows. See also wrapped foods.

These uses, although familiar, have not often been described in detail. However, Monina Mercado (in Cordero-Fernando, 1976) devotes an entire essay to its virtues in the Philippines for these purposes. She points out that most rural cooking in her country is done over a wood fire, and that this usually results in what is in the bottom of the pot being burned. But if a piece of banana leaf is in this vulnerable position, all will be well.

Lining a pot of rice, a piece of banana leaf at the bottom will not burn before the top is done to fluffy whiteness. And even if the bottom should burn to a brown crisp—the cook has gone away to chat over the fence—the crust, stuck to the banana leaf … would be a delicacy: golden brown and toasty crisp, subtly flavored with burnt banana leaf.