I’m on a new diet. Not exactly by choice. And not forever. Are you familiar with the B.R.A.T. Diet? If you are, I’m sorry. If you know B.R.A.T. it means you or someone you care for has had to deal with the horrors of one of those gastrointestinal issues that plagues those unfortunate enough to come across an evil virus, bacteria or protozoa that makes its home in your gut. I’ve known about B.R.A.T. since I was a kid. Whenever we’d get “the stomach thing” my mom would go into B.R.A.T. mode and when my kids were small and suffered from the horrors of “the stomach thing” I’d head for the B.R.A.T. Diet ingredients too.
Bananas. Rice. Applesauce. Toast. It’s not new. It’s sensible and it works. Trust me. It works. How do I know? I guess I’m just one of the unlucky ones who falls prey to the evil demon that likes to search out a wimpy stomach to call home. I’ve been sick in most continents and it’s never fun, but I’m getting kind of ticked off now.
I’ve fallen to “the stomach thing” a few times here and I’ve only been in Honduras for three and a half months. I’ve been sick as many times in these 14 weeks as I was the entire time I lived in the Philippines, India and Argentina. What’s up?!
I also became acutely familiar with B.R.A.T. when my oldest son was just a year old. My children’s pediatrician told me when Josh was in the hospital with a horrible bout of gastroenteritis one week so many years ago that his little intestines were bruised and that it would take a very long time to heal them and with that, poor Josh lived on the B.R.A.T. diet enhanced with boiled chicken, ground beef and potatoes. For a very long time.
But the reason I bring up B.R.A.T. is because I know all too well how important it is to follow this diet once you’re well enough to eat a little something again and to avoid most all other foods. But did I heed my own advice this week?
I think you get were I’m going here, don’t you? No. I did not! Yesterday, the day after the “onslaught” of “the stomach thing,” I made a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast and tuna salad on biscuits with a side of tortilla chips for lunch and had a St. Patrick’s Day cupcake before leaving the office. I had woken up feeling so much better than the previous day and night of misery that I thought I could get by with a few bland, familiar meals. Not a wise decision.
The thing that capped it all was dinner. WHY would I have thought I could indulge in Firecracker Shrimp for an appetizer and Coconut Shrimp for my entreé? I must have wanted to wake up in the middle of the night sick again. Let’s step back a second. TWO fried foods in one meal? I don’t do that on a night when I’m perfectly healthy! What was I thinking?? I didn’t eat much, because by the time dinner rolled around I was starting to feel the warning signs of “the stomach thing” coming back and left a lot of my meal on the plate. Thank goodness!
On the bright side, I’m living in the Banana Capital of the hemisphere. There are plenty of references to Honduras still being considered a Banana Republic, but this is my home now, so rather than using what is probably a disparaging term, I’ll stay away from it and think of Banana Republic only in the context of a retail establishment.
Anyway, bananas are plentiful here and when traveling away from the city, banana plantations abound. The plantations wiz by my windows as we race down the road to a destination outside of San Pedro Sula and what catches my eyes are baby blue plastic bags enveloping clusters of bananas. I didn’t realize this the first time I saw it. It took a few minutes to come to the realization that those plastic bags were protecting the potassium rich fruit which can be eaten by doing nothing more than peeling the thick yellow skin and popping it in your mouth.
Or can be made into a thick and creamy fruit drink, with or without alcohol. The banana can be used as a sweetener in a baked dish. In our house growing up, a treat was mashed bananas and sour cream with a sprinkle of sugar on top. I still indulge from time to time. Give it a quick sauté in butter and flame it with sweet alcohol and you’ve got a sophisticated boozy desert and maybe, best of all, a banana, sliced and put between two pieces of bread with chocolate hazelnut butter and creamy marshmallow, put on a grill pan with melted, unsalted butter and a sandwich becomes a sweet delight that is decadent and harkens back to an upscale, enhanced version of Elvis’ (reportedly) favorite sandwich. And yes, this sandwich has some off the hook processed food in it, in the name of Marshmallow Fluff! Uh huh, I had a container of this stuff in the house a couple of years ago and put it to good use with the simple banana, a two slices of ciabatta bread, a scoop of über expensive smooth, French chocolate Verité hazelnut butter and threw it on my grill pan with unsalted butter and put a brick on top to press it all together until it was an oozing Banana, Fluff, Hazlenut Butter and Marshmallow treat which I called desert.
Ah the banana.
I know I’m feeling better this afternoon because I can think about food, write about food, look at pictures of food and photograph food and not only that, but I wish had all the ingredients to put this sandwich together. In the end, it’s a darn good thing I don’t because my intestines need to heal. They’re bruised and battered and nary an herb or spice or chocolate or dairy product should pass my lips. No, what I’m looking at for the next day or two is a diet of: Bananas. Rice. Applesauce. and Toast.