Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Have you tried the bananas in Madeira?

"Have you tried the bananas? Did you know, we have smaller bananas here in Madeira than anywhere else in Europe. Did you know that smaller IS better?" asks our tourist guide in Madeira. And the fruit seller at the market, and the waiter at the restaurant. Madeirans seem to be very proud of their small bananas!

Madeira was a big banana exporter in Europe until the EU regulations on the size of bananas changed. Many of the bananas that grow on the island of Madeira don’t grow up to EU standards, and thus can not be exported out of Portugal anymore. Now 80% of the bananas on island are exported to mainland Portugal, and banana growing is still a big business.

What is remarkable that the new regulations from the 1990’s didn’t kill the banana business of a few hundred years, nor the islanders are all that upset about it (at least not anymore). The islanders believe that “smaller is better” and pride for their bananas, you can’t go on a vacation on the island without hearing how proud the locals are about their “small bananas,” which are much sweeter and taste better than the larger ones. Today, the “small & sweet Madeira bananas” are also one of the reasons why people love going to Madeira, and it is a culinary tourism draw.

The next time when you don’t qualify for something, or you are different than anyone else, think how you can highlight your difference and turn it in your favor.

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Have you tried the bananas in Madeira?