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Banana Bread is a Love Language

My six-year-old notices that I’m smashing old bananas into our largest mixing bowl. “Did somebody have a baby or is somebody sick?” she asks. I’m happy to tell her that it’s the former; a friend from our old neighborhood brought home a baby two weeks ago. Since we can’t visit and kiss tiny toes, banana bread will have to fill the gap. She slips on her apron and joins me at the counter.


We’ve made quite a few loaves in 2020, and my daughter has helped measure and stir most of them. She knows that the recipe with the cinnamon-sugar lid is our calling card and that if there are enough bananas for a double batch her breakfast tomorrow will be a treat.


A loaf of banana bread on a doorstep works as a sweet hello, but a new baby or sickness and bereavement call for a full meal if I can manage it. Hearty, nutrition-rich meals are key, and I always choose a dinner my family loves and double the recipe. Green chicken enchiladas topped with bubbling cheese, an easy chicken and orzo soup that freezes well, or good-at-any-temperature broccoli rubble farro salad fit the bill for our family. Today it’s the enchiladas, and my two-year-old pops by to the sprinkle cheese. 


Later the three of us package the meal and talk about what it’s like to have a new baby at home. “The parents are very busy taking care of the baby, and so we help to take care of the parents.” I scrawl reheating instructions on the top of the pan, pull out a bag of arugula and a vinaigrette shaken together in a jam jar, and wrap the banana bread in foil. We bundle up and drive over to the familiar front stoop to leave our offering. It feels good to help.

Being a member of our community looks different than it did a year ago. We don’t gather, we can’t comfort with a hug, can’t fill a room with laughter over a shared memory. Instead, I gather my little family to the kitchen counter and steady us with this: We can still help. Flour and butter and broccoli and bananas can help. We can show our friends that we love them; we can still look out for one another. We can bake some banana bread.


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