These Keep Coming Up.

mangeFrom Great Moments in Culinary History:

Paris, 1923: Chef Marmot de Mange created a tremendous sensation with the introduction of zucchini bread (pain de courgette). A simple recipe it was nevertheless praised by gourmands and the general public. Prior to its debut the humble zucchini had merely been a primary ingredient in ratatouille and a common filler for smoothies. De Mange had, less than two years earlier, been almost as successful with his invention of banana bread, helping to extend the popularity and shelf life of the already popular new fruit, also a primary ingredient in ratatouille.

Sadly the chef’s fortunes would take a turn when the public, expecting newer and greater things from him, rejected his subsequent offerings of aubergine and asparagus breads, his experiments with cabbage bread, and his efforts to get people to at least try kohlrabi.

Banana bread and zucchini bread continued to be served in passe patisseries throughout World War II. American GIs brought home the recipes and in 1949 zucchini bread appeared in Annie Potter’s Cook Happy, alongside her hot dog and pineapple gelatin salad.

Today both breads are more popular than ever. It’s estimated that either a whole or partial loaf of banana or zucchini bread is placed in an office breakroom every 44.1 seconds.

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14 Comments

  1. Kristine @MumRevised

    I have a good friend who makes banana bread every second day, yet she never has any around when I go for coffee. The Starbuvks I am sitting in has run out. Is there possibly a zucchini/banana bread black hole? Is there a recipe for zucchini-banana bread? Lovely post, but so many questions remain.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There must be a black hole. Every time someone leaves either banana or zucchini bread in the breakroom where I work it disappears in less than half an hour. Combining zucchini and banana bread might cause some kind of weird collapse in the space-time-bread continuum though.

      Reply
  2. Laura

    ha!! I just made some banana bread over the weekend 🙂

    I never tried/made zucchini bread; I make zucchini fritters whenever I feel like a fancy Sunday breakfast

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Zucchini fritters sound fantastic. If you have those why bother with zucchini bread?

      Reply
  3. Ann Koplow

    My son Aaron believes bananas should never be used in any kind of cooking or baking. I’ll have to ask him his opinion about zucchinis and other words I have difficulty spelling.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I take it Aaron eats bananas before they turn into black mush which I understand is when they usually get turned into banana bread or even banana pancakes.
      Interestingly the French have a similar opinion regarding oysters, which they believe should always be served raw on the half shell–in their pure unadulterated state.

      Reply
  4. Jay

    Whoa, I did not see that coming!
    Also: me hungry now.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I wrote this months ago and I’m pretty sure I was starving at the time.

      Reply
  5. Gilly Maddison

    So office workers in the States actually have special rooms in which to have breaks? OMG the UK is just SO medieval.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Interesting. According to Ray Davies all the stories have been told of kings and knights of old. British employees don’t have a space where they work for a cuppa and a chat? Someone get George Orwell on the horn!

      Reply
  6. Spoken Like A True Nut

    Perils of working at a piteously tiny company with mostly men; nobody but me bakes. If I want banana bread at work, it’s me that has to bring it every time.

    Which ultimately means I don’t bother, because while fresh-baked banana bread is delicious, laziness takes less measuring and is better for my waistline.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Once again I count myself lucky for working for a relatively large university where most of my co-workers are women. Fortunately for my waistline very few of them bake. In fact I can’t remember the last time a loaf of banana or zucchini bread appeared in the break room, and I might have been the one who put it there.
      I occasionally do some baking myself. I’m a believer in gender parity.

      Reply
  7. Gina

    Just a quick note that my Russian husband was shocked by the number of baked goods in the US that incorporate vegetables. He has never heard of carrot cake or zucchini bread before he came to the US. It seemed odd to him. But Russians eat weird things like fish in jello there’s not a lot of room to be judgmental…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Carrot cake is a British invention so its popularity on this side of the pond is kind of surprising. And the British came up with it during World War II as a way to have cake when other ingredients were in short supply. I wonder why the Russians didn’t come up with equally creative dishes during the siege of Leningrad. Or maybe they did but the whole experience, er, left a bad taste in their mouth.

      Reply

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