Memories from Troy Semones:
“My memory of these is the best. Finding the old hammer and a clean dish towel to mash up the peanuts was my job and mom would put them on the bananas. I prefer them cold, after they set, the banana turns brown so she would sprinkle some kind of preservative on them to keep them good looking. Funny how it is very best memory of my mother’s foods and I never make it myself, scared it won’t be the same or brings back memories of those days. “I loved those bananas but we never called them anything other than bananas and peanuts with Miracle Whip (light coat). Thanks for your article you made a 45-year- old man cry and e-mail. Something else i don’t do but i am going to get some bananas today and peanuts. Just hope I can find that old hammer and a clean dish towel.”
Pat Smoroske of Lexington writes:
“I had never heard of banana croquettes until I read it in the paper. I grew up in Lexington and so did both of my parents. My family has been eating “bananas” as we called them all our lives. We mixed brown sugar with the miracle whip until smooth and then spread it on sliced bananas. Then sprinkled with finely chopped peanuts.
Both of my children love them too. But, sadly, my daughter-in -law from St. Louis and son-in-law from Central Indiana think they’re disgusting. Although, I will have to say, the daughter-in-law is warming up to them and has served them to her family to try. We serve them as a special treat at holiday time whether it be Christmas or even Easter. Banana croquettes, who woulda thought?”
Judy Drury of Lexington says:
“I read the article this morning in the Herald-Leader about Banana Croquettes. I am always amazed at the people that have not heard of Banana Croquettes. I grew up in Anderson County and Banana Croquettes were always a dish that we had for special occasions or if someone in the family requested that they be made for dinner. My husband is a Minister here in Lexington now and we have not lived in Anderson Co. since 1978 but have lived in several places in Kentucky since and have met no one that knows what Banana Croquettes are. Especially someone younger than 50 years old. Our 3 grown boys love them and are often surprised when they bring a guest over to eat and I have banana croquettes fixed and the guest has never heard of them.”
Here is my recipe for Banana Croquettes:
Peel bananas – cut into 3 sections and slice down the middle.
Spread miracle whip lightly over the sliced bananas.
Roll bananas in finely chopped peanuts.”
Judy Richardson Jett writes:
“These are on the traditional menu at Boston School’s annual Oyster Supper (Boston, Kentucky). This is the fall festival held by the PTA annually on the second Saturday in November to raise funds for the school. It also functions as a community homecoming and has been held in the Boston Community for almost 100 years, starting at the Petersburg one-room school with homemade ice cream and oysters. Back then, you couldn’t just go to Kroger and buy oysters; you had to order oysters to be brought in on the train.
“My mother (at almost age 88) says that ‘we were making banana croquettes with a sauce before we knew you could buy mayonnaise or salad dressing.’ The sauce involves sugar, eggs and vinegar, and I think tastes much better.
“Banana croquettes of one type or another are popular in the Boston, Bardstown, and Springfield, KY areas.”
This story is from Linda Ramsey Ashley of Richmond:
““My parents lived in Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County KY. The year before I was born, 1941, they took an apartment in Frankfort because my bricklayer father was working on the ‘new’ State Office Building. The apartment was in a house on Ann Street and another young couple lived across the hall. That friend taught my mother to make “banana salad” as you described. If mother couldn’t find crushed peanuts, she would put whole or half nuts in a paper bag and crush them with a small hammer. Then she rolled the banana, cut in half, in salad dressing or mayonnaise, and then in the peanuts. One Christmas, she stood them on the cut end and put a cherry on top, making rather lopsided candles.
“About 1955 we visited those friends at their home in Nonesuch, KY, and were served this salad among other foods they remembered from their days in Frankfort.”
Ann Harber of London says:
“I saw the headline for your article in today’s newspaper and was immediately drawn to it. I have eaten banana croquettes since childhood and thought everyone else did for a long time. I grew up in Washington County here in Kentucky in the small town of Mackville. My mother made banana croquettes on special occasions like Christmas dinner, special family dinners and always for her family reunion (Yankey family). She always said her mother taught her how to make them. She made them with bananas cut into 3-4 inch pieces, coated with Miracle Whip (no substitute) and then rolled in crushed or chopped bananas. (I still have the jar and grinder she used to crush the the peanuts).
“They were always one of my favorite foods as a child and still are 50+ years later. Now my daughter and daughter-in-law feel the same way. I’ve made them a tradition for Christmas and birthday dinners. We lived in Florida for several years and folks there had no idea what a croquette was, much less a banana croquette. As my mother got older the job of making the banana croquettes for the family became the job of my niece and myself. We have had more fun in the kitchen making them.
“My Mom passed away 7 years ago but whenever my niece and nephew and their children get together I still make banana croquettes just like Mom did. I hope my children will pass this tradition on to the next generation.”
Cindy Shearer of Nicholasville writes:
“My grandmother and my mother and her sisters always made “banana salad.” They always made this when company was coming”.
Slice bananas and layer with crushed peanuts and dressing (recipe below).
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 cup pineapple juice
1 egg yolk (beaten)
Mix dry ingredients. Add juice. Whisk. Cook until thick. Add 1 tablespoon butter. Chill.
Susan Meers Wells of Lexington remembers:
“Your call for stories about banana croquettes took me back to my grandmother’s kitchen in Washington County. As a child in the 60s and 70s, we would visit our grandparents for at least two weeks every summer. Clyde and Louise Howard lived and worked the farm they bought and paid for during the depression. Being that we lived on Long Island, my two sisters and I were always fascinated by farm life and LOVED Mamaw’s country cooking!
“Banana Croquettes were reserved for special meals and involved quite a ritual. First, a grandchild was selected to have the honor of crushing the nuts. Whole peanuts were folded into a clean tea towel and sent to the front parlor hearth where they were then smashed to small chips with a heavy antique iron – made of cast iron. It was great fun! The peanuts were then carefully returned to the kitchen. As an aside, woe to the child that spilled and wasted any! That occurrence always resulted in Mamaw’s firm but loving review of the merits of leading a frugal, waste-not-want-not lifestyle. That said, production of the coquettes was completed by a line up of all present grandchildren tall enough to reach the kitchen counter. A thin layer of salad dressing was applied to bananas cut into thirds. They were then rolled in the crushed peanuts and stacked decoratively on a plate. They had to be guarded till mealtime and there were never any leftovers.
“When my grandmother died, the sweet ladies of the Mackville Baptist Church prepared a meal for our family after the funeral. Imagine my delight when I noticed that beside the fried chicken were banana croquettes! It had been a good 15 years since I had had any and my two young boys ate them with gusto. I know Mamaw smiled in heaven when she heard them ask, as we rode back to Lexington, about those “banana things” and ask if we could make them at home.”
Norma Peck shares this recipe from her grandmother Roxie McIntyre.
“Everytime I serve these people are surprised and love them,”
My grandmother’s banana salad
l cup of mayonnaise
1 – 2 tablespoons of sugar
Mix together. Add enough milk to thin down. Roll sliced bananas into very fine crushed peanuts or cashews. Any kind of nut will work.
This is from Jane Howell:
From your column this morning in the HL, I like another reader, didn’t know that bananas rolled in peanuts were called banana croquettes.
I got this recipe from Mrs. Elmer Bryant after I first tasted them at her house or at Waddy Baptist Church pot luck dinner. It doesn’t use mayonnaise, but actually the sauce is similar to the ingredients when I made home-made mayonnaise. I’m not sure when mayonnaise was first sold, but I bet this sauce is probably older than mayonnaise.
3/4 cup of sugar
Juice of 1 lemon (2 – 3 T)
Beat eggs, add sugar and lemon juice and bring all to a boil. Remove from heat. Cut bananas in 1/3 to 1/2. Roll the banana pieces in the sauce, then in crushed peanuts.