Banana Bread and Friends

21 Sep

Banana BreadThere are about a million sayings and quotes about friends and friendship and while there might be some truth to most of them, I think they can all be summed up in one:  True friends are a rare thing.

While making new friends can be difficult at times, it is about a million times harder to keep friendship intact in spite of physical distance and time apart.

I’m not, particularly, a person who has trouble making friends. For the most part, I’m very likable and mellow. Or at least so I’ve been told by friends and even by different bosses I’ve had. One former boss told me once that I put people at ease, whatever that means. But as many friends as I’ve made in my life, I’ve had my share of “breakups” with some of those people. In some cases, these fallouts have totally been my fault. On other occasions, not at all. And quite often, both parties have been at fault.

I feel like it wouldn’t be fair for me to air the dirty friendship laundry in this space, so I can’t really get into these stories as much as I would like to. This is something that has been on my mind for a while and there isn’t a lot of people in my life that I can objectively discuss it with.

I don’t mean this post to sound all like “woe is me; all my friends hate me”. That is not the case at all. I have wonderful friends who I have not seen in a long time or even talk to everyday but the memories shared with them keep the affection alive.  So I feel like reminiscing a little.

There is my group of girls back in Colombia who I miss so dearly. I miss going to the mall with them after work (Oh El Portal, how I miss your crowded Saturday afternoons too!). I miss going out for a burger at El Corral or a steak at Buffalo Bill with Sindy. Or sharing a cheesecake and Juan Valdez coffee with Ruth. And going shopping for shoes with Brenda. And I also miss sharing a cab with Jennifer and trying to protect her freshly blown-out hair from that pesky rain.  Those things feel like they happened a million years ago, in a different lifetime, but I vividly remember and treasure them. Thanks to Whatsapp, we can keep up with each other’s shenanigans and not lose touch.  Oh, but that time we spent together back when were young and single, that is something I’ll never forget.

Then, there’s my college BFFs. The group known (to ourselves) as “Los mas” (The most…I don’t know it’s hard to translate that). I still crack up when I remember that nickname. If anyone in college ever heard any of us calling ourselves that, they might have thought we were making reference to us being the most talented or smart. We actually meant to say we were the most hated. So joke’s on you college classmates! It was four of us: Oriana, Juan Carlos, Jose Mario and me. It started with Oriana and I working as partners in most assignments. Jose and Juan were kind of loners and so they sort of started joining us regularly when we had to work in groups. And then we were inseparable. Later on, Jose and I both ended up living in North Carolina so we share a lot more memories. Thanks to him, I also met another dear friend, his lovely wife Angela with whom I’ve shared so many happy moments. She went to my first-ever Bon Jovi concert with me. I will never forget that! Also, shopping. Lots and lots of shopping. I  realized the other day that come this October I will have known those four people for twelve years. That feels like an incredible long time. I can’t believe that in some way or another they are still a part of my life. And speaking of college classmates, while I don’t keep in touch with each one of those in my graduating class, I have some very fond memories of them as well.

There have been other friends that have been so close to me at one point in my life.  So many shared laughs and memories. Then one day something happens and this wall of distance suddenly stands between us and we sort of start resenting each other and that just drives us further apart. But the worst is when they start doing and saying things to you that leave a bad taste in your mouth. And you start wondering: were they even really my true friend or was that just pretend?

I can’t forget my Colombo friends. These are the friends I made at my first job back in Colombia. Most of them I also knew from college but we weren’t as close then. I’ve been so lucky that most of these friends are living in the US now and I get to see them every now and then.

There are also certain, special friends that have been in so many different circles of my life: college, first job, grad school. I’m looking at you, Duvan and Daiver!

Finally, my grad school friends: Tica, Margo, Pili, Milton (times 2), Luz, and Milena, I miss our summers so much! Tests and homework, not so much.

I know I’m probably leaving some people out, but I gotta finish this post some time. Note that I didn’t even talk about high school friends or the friends I’ve met online (some of whom I’ve known for 13 years!!!). Those belong in a whole new post for another time.

You might be wondering, what the hell does banana bread have to do with friends? Well, you see I’m not much of a baker–mostly because I love to experiment in the kitchen and baking is an exact science. So I only have one fool-proof recipe and it was given to me by one of dear friends from Brazil. Luis and Cleide, I miss you!

Much like a true friend, this banana bread never disappoints.

PS: I really didn’t want to write something as corny as “I’m married to my best friend”. But what do you know, indeed my husband is my best friend. I know, so corny.

Brazilian Banana Bread Recipe

(Original recipe by my friend Luis)

Ingredients

5 ripe bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups sugar ( I used 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and it works great too)

2 beaten eggs

3/4  cup canola oil

2 cups breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter.

In large mixing bowl, beat bananas, sugar, oil and eggs with a whisk. Finally, add breadcrumbs, cinnamon and baking powder and stir until combined. Pour mixture into greased pan and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let bread cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

Yields 10 thick slices.

Important: This banana bread is incredibly addictive and each slice is 400 calories. Consider yourself warned!

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5 Responses to “Banana Bread and Friends”

  1. Ori September 21, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Thank you for remembering us dear friend of mine.

  2. techieteacherstricks September 21, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    I loved reading this Maria.
    Friends are indeed an MUST HAVE and we’re blessed to have some. It was so nice of you to take time and write about friends. In this age of speed, too often we don’t offer our friends a fair share of our time…I also miss those grad school evenings when we went for a walk having those …very engaging conversations about…about what? Linguistics of course…LOL

  3. DJWolff September 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    “There have been other friends that have been so close to me at one point in my life. So many shared laughs and memories. Then one day something happens and this wall of distance suddenly stands between us and we sort of start resenting each other and that just drives us further apart. But the worst is when they start doing and saying things to you that leave a bad taste in your mouth. And you start wondering: were they even really my true friend or was that just pretend?”

    I guess I fall into this category.

    • Mangocita September 22, 2013 at 6:32 am #

      You don’t fall into this category at all. We may have distanced each other but I don’t resent you. I have, for the most part, fond memories of our college days together.

  4. jucaagsa September 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading a post from my dear Mangocita again. I found it extremely sincere and touching, which makes it fit perfectly at this beautiful date. I also appreciated your efforts for not forgetting anyone. And the banana bread seems just delicious 😉

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