What’s the deal with Somali food and bananas?

In a boost to the stereotype that Twitter is only good for posting pictures of what you’ve had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a national reporter for the Los Angeles Times says he’s absorbed social media ridicule for having an unsliced banana with his meal in Minneapolis.

Matt Pearce found out the hard way that with Somali food, you slice the banana and eat it with your dish… in this case: the rice.

Somali millennials around the world were laughing at me (definitely not with me) for failing Somali Cuisine 101. I received a steady stream of replies about the banana for the next couple of days. Humbling as it was, it taught me about how food — and the Internet — bring people in the Somali diaspora together.

The people in my mentions were from Minnesota, Canada, Great Britain and beyond. And here they were, together, talking about the idiot who didn’t know what to do with the banana.

Their families were among the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by Somalia’s civil war. As is the case for many first- and second-generation immigrants, the idea of home can be complicated.

“As Somalis settled in foreign cities and grappled with the possibility of losing their sense of identity and culture, social media was like an extension of the motherland, connecting millions of Somalis to one another,” Najma Sharif wrote in a recent essay for Vice, adding: “The place I’ve always felt the most at home, surrounded by other Somalis, isn’t really a place at all — it’s the internet.”

Food, like the Internet, is a major point of connection. In the U.S., Mohamud said, his mother cooked traditional Somali meals at home and required everyone to speak Somali in her household so she could preserve her family’s culture.

“She wasn’t anti-American,” Mohamud said. “But she made sure that we basically be Somali first and then American second, and know that we come from a very rich background and we shouldn’t lose that just because we’re here.”

Pearce suggested he found some satisfaction with the fact his faux pas appeared to unite Somalis worldwide.

Of course, this also confirms the “don’t ask directions” nature of guys worldwide, because the easiest thing would have been for him to ask his server, “what’s the deal with this banana?”

(h/t: Paul Tosto)