movie star banana bread or Andrew McCarthy is all grown up now

I’m continually amazed that the 1980s were so terribly long ago. It doesn’t seem more than a handful of years back that I was wearing baggy pinstripe Zenas (!) and listening to the likes of Toni Basil. (For a hysterically funny take on how time flies,Β Becky’s thoughts on such things is so worth a read.) Children of the ’80s are all grown up by now and have since realized that shoulder pads perhaps weren’t the smartest fashion move (though I think they might be coming back–hoo boy) and big hair was, well, too big. Those who claim the ’80s as their “formative years” now have smart phones, real jobs, families.

Consider Andrew McCarthy, leading man in classic ’80s cinema: Class, Fresh Horses, Weekend at Bernie’s, Mannequin (an underrated movie if there ever was one), Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire. Food for fun won’t focus on the movies (my blogging buddy, amb, can help you there–she’s the best), but rather the fact that Andrew McCarthy is also all grown up now. He’s a food writer!

Imagine my surprise when I first saw McCarthy’s byline in Bon Appetit just a few months back. I quickly looked him up online and besides noting that he has aged very well, I learned he is Editor-at-Large for National Geographic Traveler and has won boatloads of awards for his writing. (Admittedly, he writes more on travel than he does food, but in my world Mr. McCarthy is a Food Writer.)

The March ’13 BA features his tale of traveling twisty and narrow roads in search of the best banana bread on the planet. A land-locked Midwesterner, I hadn’t known that Hawaii is said to be home to the very best of the banana breads and I enjoyed reading McCarthy tell of his visits to a handful of off-the-beaten-path roadside huts known for this all-American quickbread. The recipe for Julia’s Banana Bread was given, citing it as the top banana of the banana bread world.

When sharing this story with a friend, I learned of her trip to Hawaii a few years back when she, too, went on a pilgrimage for this bread, inspired by tales of locals. Hours after setting out, her party finally made it to the tiny hut only to learn Julia’s was out of bread for the day. A downer for sure, but now thanks to the all-grown-up Andrew McCarthy, Julia’s banana bread is available to all.

Calling for the most basic of ingredients (eggs, flour, baking soda, sugar, salt, bananas, oil), it was an easy loaf to whip up. I’ll admit to fighting urges to tweak: oh, how I wanted to add a pinch of cinnamon or ginger, a handful of chocolate chips, sub out half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat. But I stood strong, if only out of respect for McCarthy and his craft.

Sticking to the formula was worth it. Largely because of the 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup oil, and 3 eggs, it is arguably the best banana bread ever. Sweet, freckled, moist, likely what you’d find if you looked “Perfect Banana Bread” up in the dictionary. To children of the ’80s–or whatever decade you call your own–I strongly advise you to bake up your own loaf of tropical paradise. For those who want a more authentic experience, watch this bizarre YouTube clip just before eating your first slice. This never would have been possible back in the ’80s.

beautiful banana bread

beautiful banana bread

by the slice

by the slice

32 thoughts on “movie star banana bread or Andrew McCarthy is all grown up now

    • can you make it gluten-free? Suppose it’s just switching out the flour. No ’80s star sightings here in MN, so am most envious. Yes, the ’80s are a kick. Styles were so loud and in-your-face. And the music… Yes to gee whiz! Thanks for stopping by, Poppy. Will look for ’80s food flick reviews on your site πŸ™‚

      • πŸ™‚ Star sightings & Warm weather… on of the benefits of living in Sunny South Florida:) LOL:) I am working on a gluten free banana bread recipe, I will share when I get it perfected:) Until then more hairspray.. and blue eyeshadow… did I mention more hairspray:)

  1. I’m so glad you made this! Been wanting to try out the recipe and just haven’t gotten around to it. I definitely will now, and I promise not to tweak it either. Looks pretty perfect to me! =)

    • another awesome BA score. What got me is that it was SO SIMPLE. No extra shopping trips required.

      Side note: Had to order more Plush Puffs caramel swirl as I was out and can no longer imagine life w/out. πŸ˜‰

  2. This really IS simple! I want to try it, but I will have to hide bananas to ripen so they don’t get eaten πŸ˜‰

    I have tried to make references to Weekend at Bernie’s many times, and people never know what I’m talking about. I’m glad I have a fellow fan. The 80s are coming back in a major way, at least here in San Francisco. Teens and 20-somethings are all walking around in neon sunglasses and new wave hairdos. Yikes.

    • That’s funny, Andi. I’m always here for Weekend at Bernie’s conversations. Darn good movie. (As was Mannequin. Just sayin’ πŸ˜‰ )

      Hadn’t realized you were in San Fran. Envy! You can go to Humphry Slocombe whenever you want!!!!

      I tried peeling a banana upside-down yesterday per your facebook post, but I got a string. ?? The same neighbors who brought us the can of beets (did you see my reply?) bought us two bunches of spotty bananas, so I scored. Without those, I’d have to buy and hide, too. You must indeed make this loaf πŸ™‚ And p.s. it’s almost Friday and time for your Happy Hour post!

      • I have to go look up Humphry Slocombe now! I thought I replied to your reply about the beets. Sometimes I compose things in my head but forget to actually write them, so sorry if that was the case here.

        I think of Weekend at Bernie’s a lot when I have a young baby and take him all over the place asleep. It is amazing how they can sleep through anything sometimes! This makes me want another tiny baby…

        I found that the upside down banana trick reduced but did not eliminate strings. Thanks for nothing, Jamba Juice.

        To end this longest comment ever, I will say that this week’s cocktail will involve coconut…

  3. Thanks for the shout out Liz! The fact that you did it in a post that mentions 80s movies, which I love, and banana bread, which I LOVE, makes it even more delizious! (see what I did there? πŸ™‚ ) I am definitely going to be trying that one soon … perhaps this weekend! Will keep you posted!

    Also, I saw in an earlier comment that you were asking about making it gluten free … you could definitely do so by swapping out the flour. One thought I had is that coconut flour would make a particularly tasty substitute – would pair nicely with the banana flavour! Plus, if you’ve cut starch out of your diet, you can still eat coconut flour!

    • Good to know, amb. Thanks πŸ™‚ Not sure if you’ve seen Poppy Seed’s blog, but she has a foodie flick page and also is in the gluten-free food biz. Someone you’d want to know (if you don’t already), I’d bet. It’s a yummy banana bread and have been eating it breakfast, snack, lunch, and dessert so will soon have to make another loaf.

      Looking forward to more discussion the movies of the ’80s for sure.

      • I haven’t … but after that description, I’m off to check it out right now! Yay for discovering new like minded blogging folk! πŸ™‚

    • You rock, Becky and I’m honored to have you here πŸ™‚ Hope the banana bread adventure was great fun and that you liked. Reading Bon Appetit website reviews, I saw that some folk thought it was too oily. Hmmm…. And here I thought it was amazing.

      Thanks for the Like and Follow. I’d invite Stickman to come by as well. He’s looking a bit thin and maybe I could help put some meat on his bones with tasty fare.

  4. A prized recipe for a banana bread! I have one that I have been faithful to for years but I am eager to make it this way next time, just because it is so sought after. It does sound pretty similar but always open to making improvements. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

    • Wow–hadn’t looked at it connecting those dots: ’80s, banana bread, Hawaii. That is indeed lovely πŸ™‚ Awesome perspective, “Fannie.”

  5. Andrew McCarthy is an award-winning travel/food writer — get outta town! I can’t get over this! Perhaps never has there been a better actor-career-reinvention since Eddie Haskell became a narcotics officer with the LAPD.

    • lol Eddie Haskell. Oh how times change πŸ™‚ I was truly shocked (and pleasantly surprised πŸ™‚ ) when I saw what Mr. McCarthy had done with his life. He has a book out now about his travels and such, so maybe someday will read? Thanks for coming by! (get outta town–travel writer, liking the pun)

  6. Pingback: Bonus Recipe: Chocolate Oatmeal Banana Bread | The Weary Chef

  7. Pingback: Was it Worth it: Is Julia’s banana bread really the best? | Attempts in Domesticity

  8. Liz – I also read the same article and remember it well! πŸ™‚ Yes, I often refer to epicurious.com when my Bon Appetits have been recycled. Have a lovely day, Liz. Thank you for sharing your beautiful banana bread. Warm regards – Shanna

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