Bananas for Monks (and Me)

Early this morning, edging towards wakefulness but not quite there, I dreamed of fruit.

IMG_0674Mirroring reality of that moment, it was dawn in that fuzzy state as well. I was somewhere in Asia, Luang Prabang I believe. I was staying in a lower floor, and when I awoke I climbed the few stairs up to the front door. The staircase continued to the upper floors. After turning my head to see that nobody was about, I quietly unlatched the door and tiptoed outside.

The monks were not yet anywhere to be seen. I walked along the darkened road, passing shadowy figures looking worn and weary. I came upon a bakery with a sign that read “La Patisserie.” I stepped inside, noticing for the first time the pangs of hunger that had awakened me hours ago. A Caucasian woman greeted me with as much cheerfulness as she could muster at that hour, asking what I wanted to buy: Vous cherchez quelque chose en particulier? I was puzzled at her language of choice; surely she couldn’t have known that I spoke French.

I looked at her gamely, then turned to scan the freshly baked goods lining both shelves of the display case. I could almost see the steam rising from the croissants, brioches and assorted baked breads. I glanced about some more until I spotted a tray of not-quite-ripened, greenish bananas. I pointed.

Je veux ces bananes, I said.

The woman behind the counter looked bewildered, then clicked her heels, shuffled off to find a plastic bag. I waved at her to stop, I don’t need a bag, thank you.

I paid for the bananas, cradling the bunch in my arms as I paid and left the shop. I was already a full block away from the store when I stopped and wondered aloud: What am I supposed to do with so many bananas? I plucked two pieces off the bunch, then looked up and down the street.

A long line of orange-robed monks approached from the far end, the slowly dissipating mist rising to reveal their faintly recognizable forms. I stood on the sidewalk facing the street, waited for them to stop and open their alms-bowls in front of me, and proceeded to place one banana after the other in each bowl – until I was left standing with the two pieces that I would eat myself.IMG_8834It was at that moment that I opened my eyes, struck by the seemingly odd manifestations in the dream. It took me just a moment longer to appreciate the mind’s insight, gifted to me in a dream state: Last week a naturopath suggested that I stop eating wheat, sugar, dairy – and FRUIT. Yes, ALL fruit, so many favorites, tropical and otherwise… mango and papaya, rambutan and mangosteen… but most especially bananas. Bananas are definitely OUT. Exceptions to the rule are starfruit, snake fruit – neither of which I’ve developed a taste for; the occasional apple and berries(!).

If you live in the northern hemisphere, those marching orders could very well be palatable and one might be able to stick to them. But if you live on a tropical island, and if fruit or fruit salad or a fruit smoothie (or other such variation) are staples of your daily diet – most especially breakfast; if, moreover, you’ve made a lifelong habit (ok, at least many many years) of eating fruit first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach – because that’s what popular healthy-eating literature espouses – this is very, very bad news indeed.

IMG_8753Which, understandably, is why I gave away my bananas. Well, most of them. I suppose that hanging on to a pair of those forbidden fruit reflected my resistance to the idea – or alternately, a glimmer of hope, that these are only temporary measures, and that one day I will once again enjoy a banana, or two.


  1. Sugar can be really inconvenient to give up! I did it for a few weeks, this time last year come to think of it. Anyway, assuming you’re now a few weeks into the new regime I hope you’ve been able to feel some improvement.

    1. A little bit Hayley, thanks… but still a way to go to set my body straight again. I’m learning alot and figuring it out as I go along – and listen to my body. Funny, I thought I would NEVER be able to live without chocolate.. and I bucked it nearly 4 months ago! (Not saying that I don’t miss it once in awhile… πŸ˜‰

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