Q: My dad (God rest his soul) once told me that consuming beer and bananas together together could be deadly poisonous. He said he almost lost his little brother because of it. It seems back in the days of Prohibition my uncle, who was just a boy at the time, was treated to a dessert of banana splits. Later that same evening, he took a couple of healthy sips of Grandma’s beer. When he stopped breathing, he was rushed to the doctor, who informed my grandmother that my uncle had been poisoned! I loved my dad dearly, but I also know that on occasion he wouldn’t let facts get in the way of a good story! Any truth to this?
Cathy Stoltz, of Belleville
A: Thank you so much for helping me publicize this little-known fact: Yes, the combination of beer and bananas can be a killer.
Don’t believe me? Just ask the flower beetles at the Old Collier Golf Club in Naples, Fla. A few years ago, the club was having major problems with these little pests. It wasn’t so much that the beetles were destroying the greens, but scavengers such as raccoons and armadillos were leaving unnatural divots while digging up beetle grubs for a midnight snack.
So here’s what an insect expert recommended: Cut holes in a plastic milk jug and use a paper clip to suspend an empty yogurt cup from the top of the jug. Fill the cup with several slices of ripe bananas along with several ounces of beer. Then, fill the bottom of the jug with 3 inches of soapy water and hang the whole mess in a tree.
When the adult beetles are in flight, they are attracted to their favorite food, the banana. Unfortunately for them, they’ll also drink the beer along with it, get drunk and fall into the soapy water to die. When they hung 11 of these traps in strategic spots, the groundskeepers swear they found hundreds of dead beetles a day in each trap during peak beetle season.
As you’ve probably inferred by now, the same peril does not await humans unless they eat a bunch of bananas, drink a keg of beer and fall into a swimming pool. Either your uncle drank tainted home-brew, became ill serendipitously or your dad was indeed full of hops in this case. Although the thought of downing a Chiquita and Guinness together certainly turns my stomach, the combination won’t hurt you.
Some nutritionists recommend eating a banana or two after a beer binge because, being high in potassium, the fruit may help alleviate some of alcohol’s dehydrating effects and quiet those water buffaloes dancing on your head the next day. And, if you don’t buy that, here’s the real kicker: In Kenya, Uganda and other areas of Africa, they make beer out of bananas. No joke.
So this apparently was a case of your dad pulling your leg or one of those family legends that arise out of a misunderstanding and handed down for generations. Even my family was not immune. I still remember when I was maybe 6 or 7 my brother, Bob, telling me that consuming apples and milk together could produce grave consequences. So as I watched in horror, he proceeded to eat two or three small tart apples from our backyard tree and then almost immediately drink a glass of milk at lunch. I never forgave him for that, as you can see.
Of course, my mom never allowed me to drink milk with fish, warned my dad about taking a nip of his concord wine after a pork dinner and swore that the pepper you ate would stick to your intestines forever. My mom was a smart lady but apparently sometimes family members can be a bottle short of a six-pack on matters of nutrition.
Q: Could you please explain those huge mounds of dirt that have suddenly appeared on South Third Street in back of South Side Park in Belleville?
G.S., of Belleville
A: Ironically, you’re seeing the temporary ugly byproduct of a project designed to better protect the area from an even uglier menace: raw sewage.
In 2007, Belleville reached an agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to modernize the city sewer system and prevent waste water from entering area creeks. Since then, Belleville has spent $44 million on a project that will take another decade and ultimately will cost at least $127 million. (That’s why your sewer rates went up in December 2013.)
What you’re seeing, Mayor Mark Eckert says, is part of new sewer line construction in the Richland Creek area. It’s part of the phase 3 project approved last summer, when the City Council awarded a $21.89 million contract to Haier Plumbing and Heating, of Okawville. My BND colleague Mike Koziatek says he is planning to write a story soon that will give you an update of the overall project.
Q: Why did KSDK fire meteorologist Cindy Preszler? On Friday, she said she was going to be looking for a job. I really liked her.
J.M., of Fairview Heights
A: It’s a sad fact of life these days for people who come to love a media personality: To cut costs, companies often offer buyouts to their highest-paid employees so the CEOs either can cut salaries entirely or hire new folks at much lower wages.
That’s what Tegna Media, which owns KSDK, did last February, and Preszler accepted after 18 years at the station. She wasn’t alone in taking the money and running. The offer was available to employees 55 and older with 15 or more years of experience. With his contract up for renewal, fellow weather-forecaster Mike Roberts, now of Godfrey, saw the isobars on the wall and accepted as well. Their last day was Friday. Now 60 and a grandfather, the four-time Emmy winner joined KSDK in 1996.
There’s another empty local TV chair this week, too: Christine Buck signed off for the last time Friday from KTVI/KPLR. The daughter of sportscasting legend Jack Buck, Christine started as a weathercaster at KPLR back in 1977. Dan Gray has been tabbed to fill her 4 p.m. anchor slot until a replacement is found.
Just for fun: Do you remember which lawyer never lost a case on “The Flintstones”?
Answer to Sunday’s trivia: For many years, movie executives refused to allow their films to be shown on TV, fearing people would no longer come to the theater. Finally, the two sides agreed on paying residuals, and, on March 5, 1956, the first Hollywood movie was shown on the boob tube: the 1933 classic “King Kong.” As it turned out, patrons continue to go ape over new releases in theater thanks in part to such innovations as megascreens and 3D prints.