What’s in a name? Truths and lies, bread and pie.

I was destined to be a dietitian. It was written in the stars, or rather, written in my name, in the ironic way Sue Yoo became a lawyer. See, until 1966 when my father’s teacher told him a word could not have a capital letter partway through it, my surname was spelt RossiMel. Back in Italy, for generations, this indicated to nearby villagers that one belonged to the Rossi Family from Mel- Mel being a town famous for their Mele (Italian for ‘apple’). So really, I’m Elisa RossiApple, and I’m so cool with that.

When 14 year old Elisa arrived in Mel, she was served Torta di Mele, or Italian Apple Pie. She ate way too much and when she returned to Australia she took up running because 14 year old Elisa did not know about energy balance. That begun my love affair with running and over a decade later, it continues. Because it gives the mind a holiday, albeit a brief one, and it means I can eat Nonna’s apple pie. 14 year old Elisa also didn’t know that adding liqueur to most things automatically makes it a good 50% better, so I’ve stolen Nonna’s recipe and added some Limoncello, and gone for a run as I will be having more than 1 slice of Limoncello and Apple Pie (Torta di Mele e Limoncello).

Anyway, what I’m not cool with, is when food lies. Chicken Cup A Soups can often have no actual chicken in it, and the “real strawberry pieces” in some cereals are often actually a tiny amount of strawberry concentrate mixed with flour, sugar, colours and flavours. But for today, I’m going to focus on banana bread, because, despite the fact it makes for a lovely brunch when warmed and served with marscapone, it is NOT a bread. 

The Australian government has a regulatory board, FSANZ, that oversees our food supply- it ensures foods are properly labelled, do not contain unsafe ingredients, do contain what you would hope they’d contain, and ensure some foods have certain amounts of nutrients in them. For example, it states skim milk cannot be more than 1.5% fat (so you can’t take out a teeny tiny bit of fat from normal milk and call it skim), and that a jam must have no less than 40% of the fruit or fruits in the name of the jam (you can’t call it raspberry jam if it’s only 5% raspberries). So it’s pretty good at keeping things fair and legit. It also has a definition for bread, which is “the product made by baking a yeast-leavened dough prepared from one or more cereal flours or meals and water”. Banana bread lacks yeast; it makes up for this with a whole range of ingredients that help give it a lovely texture- butter, oil, eggs, sugar, baking powder… why, this is sounding awfully familiar…

CAKE! That’s where I’ve heard those ingredients listed before! You know, the sort of thing that comes out at birthdays, or at the end of a dinner party, or, if you’re really lucky, as a treat in you lunch box (coz you’re never too old for a lunchbox). It’s not the sort of thing that you’d grab heading out the door at 7am, yet cafes and ‘health’ stores like juice bars have banana bread/cake lined up ready to pair with your morning latte. Don’t believe me? See how it compares to a sponge cake filled with jam and cream, just like grandma/ Coles baker makes…

So I’ve developed a REAL banana bread recipe Real Cocoa and Banana Bread. It has yeast and flour and banana and some cocoa, because, banana and cocoa go together like Ross and Rachel. No, it’s not as sweet as your cafe brunch, and to be honest it’s a bit of a mind fuck as it looks like cake but tastes like bread. But like Ross and Rachel, in the end, it just works. It’s meant to be. A bit like a dietitian with the surname Apple.