Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Old Postcard Wednesday--Unloading Bananas, New Orleans, Louisiana


Is that a banana in your pocket or a souvenir replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy? Sorry.....I couldn't resist! 

I added this old postcard to my collection a few months ago and now seems a perfect week for it. New Orleans is in the midst of one of its biggest parties ever so it won't be bothered by the fact that the description given it on the back of this postcard, that it was "the world's greatest banana port," is no longer true. Not that the word "greatest" helps us much in understanding if it was the world's largest banana port at that time. They used to use greatest as a descriptor a lot in this country, as if it said it all and no further clarification or qualification was necessary.......

In any event, the World Port Source indicates that (highlighting is mine and I even looked up what in the heck a "TEU" is -- see the asterisk):
In the 2007-2008 shipping season, 388 vessels called at the Port of Wilmington (Delaware) carrying almost four million tons of cargo, including 1.7 million tons of containerized cargo (in 190.6 thousand TEUs*) and 130.8 thousand automobiles and roll-on/roll-off units...

The major cargoes were bananas and tropical fruit (1.4 million tons), petroleum (942 thousand tons), dry bulk (637 thousand tons), autos and roll-on/roll-off cargoes (275 thousand tons), other general cargoes (211 thousand tons), other fruits (199 thousand tons), and forest products (134 thousand tons)...

The Port of Wilmington is the United States' leading port for imports of fresh fruit, produce, and juice concentrate, and it is the world's largest port handling bananas. The Port of Wilmington handles over 200 thousand TEUs carrying fresh fruits and concentrates each year, and it offers a 74.3 thousand square meter cold-storage complex for these cargoes. During the winter, the Port of Wilmington receives table grapes, peaches, plums, applies, nectarines, pears, and other fruits from Chile. In the spring, fresh apples, pears, and kiwifruit arrive from New Zealand and Chile. In the fall, Moroccan clementines arrive.

*twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU)Standard unit for describing a ship's cargo carrying capacity, or a shipping terminal's cargo handling capacity. A standard forty-foot (40x8x8 feet) container equals two TEUs (each 20x8x8 feet).  (source:

However, according to


QINHUANGDAO, Feb 12, 2001 Asia Pulse - Qinhuangdao Port in North China's Hebei Province has become the largest collection and distribution center for imported bananas.
It handled 372,000 tons of imported bananas in 2000, an increase 53.3 per cent over the previous year. At present, the amount of bananas imported via the port accounted for more than 60 per cent of the total import of…  
The remainder of the article is unavailable without signing up for a trial of something. Additional research uncovered these facts:

The five largest ports in the world (source

Cargo Volume:
  1. Shanghai, China
  2. Singapore, Singapore
  3. Rotterdam, Netherlands
  4. Ningbo, China
  5. Guangzhou, China
Container Traffic:
  1. Singapore, Singapore
  2. Hong Kong, China
  3. Shanghai, China
  4. Shenzhen, China
  5. Busan, South Korea

At and it's cousin blog I couldn't find information about the ports that import, export, collect, and distribute the fruit. I did learn that the banana plant is not a tree. It is the world's largest herb! How about that?!

My search for information brought me right back to the Port of Wilmington, but to a different page, that again boasts:
Our status as the world's largest banana port, and the nation's leading gateway for imports of fresh fruit and produce shows our capability for quality handling of perishable cargo. . .
I'm willing to accept the Port of Wilmington's claim until someone can distinguish for me how the "collection and distribution center" in China bumps Wilmington's largest banana port distinction.........

All this discussion about port-this and port-that reminded me of how much I disliked port wine back in the years when I was a drinker. Which led me to wondering if there could be such a thing as banana wine. YUP! There is!
Banana wine can be made dry or sweet depending upon the recipe and can be blended with other wines to add body and flavor. Patience is required when making this wine because it takes a long time to become clear. The following recipe will show you how to make your own banana wine.  LINK TO RECIPE AT

Now let's bring New Orleans back into focus in this post with a
Banana Pudding recipe from Real Cajun Recipes:

Banana Pudding I
submitted by Deborah Bergeron
Abbeville, LA

"Old Fashion like Maw-Maw used to cook for hours and hours. With the vanilla wafers! EVERYONE WANTED IT DAILY BUT IT WAS TOO MUCH TROUBLE!! Here it is and takes no time to make."

Makes: 10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: not available
Ready In: 15 minutes

2 boxes instant banana pudding
1 box vanilla wafers
1 can Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
3 - 4 fresh ripe bananas
1/2 tub of Cool Whip

Mix instant pudding as directed on box. Add in the 1/2 tub Cool Whip and the can of condensed milk. Mix well.

Using a 2qt. - 2 1/2 qt. casserole dish, line bottom and sides of dish with vanilla wafers. Slice bananas to cover wafers. Pour 1/2 of the pudding over bananas. Repeat the vanilla wafers and bananas and top with the remaining pudding and then top with more bananas. Crumble a few more wafers on top. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and then enjoy. Try adding chopped fresh strawberries; great tasting and pretty!

If you would like to try making a banana pudding that your health insurance plan would undoubtedly endorse over the recipe above, try the recipe for Light Southern Banana Pudding instead. 

Finally, I want to add my own congratulations to the Super Bowl Champion Saints and to the City of New Orleans. You SO deserve to celebrate.



Julie Magers Soulen said...

Old postcards are so funny. I had no idea New Orleans was the greatest banana port at one time. LOL

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am so happy you enjoyed my new card.

Julie Magers Soulen Photography
Blog of Note

Darlene said...

This post reminds e of two things. Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song" and my mother's delicious banana cream pie.

Now I will have "Day-O, Daaaay-O" running through my head the rest of the afternoon. ;-)

the watercats said...

ahhh.. bananas!... I love the postcard, It's quite surreal, particularly because as i type this I'm watching a documentary about infinity and the fact everything is possible in an infinite universe... EVERYTHING!... my brain is almost fried.. now I've learnt some stuff about the banana industry too :-) Technology is great!

naomi dagen bloom said...

The banana-loading postcard sent my thoughts all over the place. When it is enlarged, the detail is fascinating. There were people working interracially in LA. back then?

New Orleans is the focus of a "Diaspora," a twice-a-year publication I've been reading--images, poems. You would enjoy it, I think. Nola was the very last place I'd thought would please me and yet it did...two years before the flood.

Perhaps more of its specialness can return to earth.

YogaforCynics said...

Bananas, mmmmm...though I just read the part of One Hundred Years of Solitude where the banana company company comes to town and...well, I won't go into it, but, let's just say that, when the banana company comes into town in any Latin American fiction...or nonfiction, for that matter...results are never pretty...



Lydia: Thanks for that great banana postcard, I did not know that about the banana imports. I do know that there is a building on St. Charles that has a beautiful facade and it says "National Fruit Company". New Orleans is truly one of our great American ports. Cheryl

Wilma Ham said...

Anybody who talks ports gets my attention, as my old home town is Rotterdam. I love ports and what they do.

Lydia said...

Julie~ Fun to have you here. Your new fine art card is so marvelous. I'm a fan.

Darlene~ I love that song so much....have ever since I was a child and had a huge crush on Harry Belafonte.
Your mother made banana cream pie...what a wonderful childhood memory. My best childhood memory about bananas is the Banana Nut Cake made by Harold's Club bakery in Reno. yum.

the watercats~ The postcard really is "quite surreal," and your comment was mind-boggling! The documentary you were watching sounds fantastic; if you have the name of it and read this please leave the name.
I agree that technology is great. It's almost spiritual the way it is bringing people together.

naomi~ When I saw this postcard for sale I knew I had to get it to share here. I'm thrilled with your observations about it and the New Orleans area...and I hope I remember to check out Diaspora (first thing to find out is if it's paper copy or an online journal...).

YogaforCynics~ Bananas are absolutely delicious...
Now, you are not kidding, aren't you? Last night I read your post in which you mentioned that book and I commented that you interested me in reading it. And now you mention that there is a part in it having something to do with a banana company? What are the odds that it would have anything to do with the topic of this week's old postcard.

Even stranger, tonight my husband called out the question in Jeopardy's final question of the night prior to Alex Trebek reading the final answer. Trebek said that tonight's final category was "American Heros." I said to Michael, "Well, now that sure runs the gamut," to which Michael yelled out "John Paul Jones!"
Then Trebek gave the question, something having to do with a sailing quote and we looked at one another like what the ___? Then after the break the respondents' questions were read. It was indeed John Paul Jones.
Something cosmic is in the air, I tell ya.

Cheryl~ It sounds as if you have been fortunate to visit these wonderful places, and that you have a true appreciation for them. And I'm so glad that you appreciated the postcard, too. :)

Wilma~ Welcome, welcome and thank you for your comments. Having Rotterdam as one's home town seems really exotic to me! I'll visit you to see if perhaps you share what area you now call home.
I love ports too. Does the word "important" have its roots in the word "port," I wonder....?

Nancy said...

Thanks for the banana info. It is amazing how many bananas we eat in this country. We always have them in our fruit bowl.

I can't wait to try that pudding.

the watercats said...

The program was called horizon, to infinity and beyond. and they cover a different topic every episode.. hang on and let me see if I can track a link down...
o.k.. got a link and this is a pretty good site if you have good broadband connection. You need to download the ninja helper, but I've had no bother with spam or rubbish watching stuff here.

this has a complete list of the horizon documentaries.. :-)

Lydia said...

the watercats~ Thank you for this information! Michael has next week off from work and that will give us time to mess around with this. It sounds fantastic; what a resource! :)

Lydia said...

nancy~ If you really do try that pudding let me know what you think about it.
I'm spacing out with a miserable virus, sorry to take a day to get back to your comment.



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