Voice: Good morning, food lovers. We start today's podcast with some good news. Today's guest is food expert, Billy Chen, who is going to tell us about something new and delicious in the world of fruit. Hello Billy.
Billy: Good morning! Yes, today I’m going to tell you all about a new kind of banana. Now you have to admit that the humble banana is the ultimate convenience food because it comes with its own wrapping. Everything about a banana is perfect. How could anyone possibly improve on this brilliant fruit?
Voice: I think you’re about to tell us that, Billy.
Billy: Indeed, I am. Anyone who struggles to peel a banana is going to be delighted.
Voice: Let me guess! Someone has invented a self-peeling banana!
Billy: Not quite! But we now the next best thing. Scientists in Japan have developed a banana that is completely edible, skin and all. No need to peel. This fruit has a very thin, sweet skin that is as delicious as the flesh itself.
Voice: That’s difficult to believe.
Billy: Oh, it’s perfectly true. I was in Japan last week and I tried one.
Voice: Tell us more!
Billy: It’s called the Mongee [mon-gay] Banana, and it has been developed by a Japanese company called D and T Farms, in Okayama Prefecture in the south of Japan’s main island, Honshu. Bananas only grow in tropical climates, but D and T Farms have engineered the DNA of the basic banana plant to allow the fruit to be grown in cooler climates.
Voice: And the skin?
Billy: That has been worked on as well. The Mongee doesn’t attract pests which means no chemical pesticides are used in its cultivation. It is completely organically grown, so it's safe to eat.
Voice: And you’ve eaten one? What did it taste like?
Billy: You have to wait until the banana is ripe before you eat it. It’s ready when brown spots appear on the skin. The skin itself doesn’t have much taste and is very thin, which means it’s okay to eat. The flesh has a strong tropical flavour, a bit like a pineapple. It was recommended I slice the banana fairly thinly to eat. The whole fruit was a lot sweeter than a regular banana; I was told there was 24 point 8 grams of sugar in each fruit, as opposed to the average 18 point three grams.
Voice: I love eating fruit, and this sounds yummy. Where can I buy some Mongee bananas? I presume they aren’t on sale in the wet markets yet.
Billy: Indeed, not. At the moment the only place you can buy Mongee bananas is in the Tenmanya department store in Okayama. But ... the store only gets one shipment a week ... of ten bananas! And one banana costs about fifty hong kong dollars
Voice: I’d better book a flight to Japan and save some money so I can afford to try one.
Billy: One last interesting fact: the word "mongee" means "incredible" in Okayama slang. Would anyone like an incredible banana? They'll be coming soon to a fruit stall near you - we hope!