Thursday, July 12, 2012

Banana Puddin' for Real

Don’t tell me that mamas and papas no longer have time to make banana puddin’ for their babies! Have you seen “trendy” grocery stores such as The Fresh Market selling pre-packaged banana puddin’? Is this where the Information Highway with incessant demands to stay connected to our smart phones, send irrelevant text messages, and check Facebook updates throughout the day has taken us?

Ready for sale at The Fresh Market
It’s bad enough that stores have sliced or cubed cantaloupe, watermelon and other summer delights to make them so easy to enjoy. All we have to do is open a cover: no messy slicing — but isn’t that half the fun of eating cantaloupe or watermelon? The joy of eating banana puddin’ is knowing that it’s homemade (and who made it).

Fortunately, these packages do include bananas unlike some places such as Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q that makes banana puddin’ without bananas. (Of course, this extends the shelf life by avoiding the chance that a banana slice can turn brown, but how they can call it banana puddin’ without its primary ingredient?) Any decent mama or papa never chooses banana puddin’ without bananas for their children when ordering fried chicken or pork barbecue.

Warning: A Connecticut
Yankee has made these 
cookies and hoodwinked 
Paula Deen.
What else is needed beside bananas? Nilla Wafers, of course. Even Paula Deen has screwed up this Southern tradition by substituting Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies for genuine Nilla Wafers. In her recipe on the Food Network, she wants you to use two bags of these high-falutin’ cookies by a company that traces its roots not to the South but to a Connecticut housewife (and is still based up yonder). At least Paula Deen has the decency to title her approach as “Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding,” so you know that you are making only a pretender. If you really want authentic banana puddin’, just follow the recipe on a box of Nilla Wafers or use the original recipe online by Nabisco World that calls for 45 wafers — and real bananas, of course (five sliced for this recipe).

What happens if you can’t eat all the puddin’ on the day that it’s made? Not a problem. Even day-old puddin’ is desirable because it’s “bold,” as Southern Culture on the Skids sings in “Banana Pudding”:
Banana puddin'
Yeah! It's day old and bold, baby.
So give me something funky with the skin on top
Something funky, that's what I've got.
Authentic puddin' just made for my classes
When I make banana puddin’ for my classes, no student ever asks, “Did you buy it?” Of course not! No self-respecting Southerner would dare to offer banana puddin’ that was not homemade. Stay true to Southern foodways: Put down your smart phone and start slicing fresh bananas.

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