As one of Sao Paulo’s most iconic sandwiches, carne louca is traditionally made by shredding a round nut roast. It is then usually served at family celebrations or during the national mid-winter festival, Junina (via Culture Trip). But, to make it vegan, Brazilian chefs have found a creative way to use banana peels – steam them, shred them, marinate them, and cook them in a banana-based meat substitute that, surprisingly, is neither bitter nor banana flavored. Although it may sound new to you, banana peels have been popular in vegan cooking since 2019 and have even been used as a substitute for bacon (according to the New York Times).
Banana peels are used as a substitute for beef in a similar recipe from Venezuela, and Bangladeshi and Indian cuisines find uses for most parts of banana trees, including the peels, flowers, and even the trunks. In the United States, where banana peels are generally considered inedible — or something to put on — it took them a little longer to sink in. Even during the days of pandemic-induced isolation, characterized by the collective motivation to bake banana bread every week, banana peels have been largely ignored despite the bounce and flavor they add to bread (via The New York Times). But hey, if the jackfruit can do it, why can’t the banana peels make their way between the buns at this summer’s barbecues?