It’s kinda-like a fruited tiramisu, or an English trifle. It takes credit for being a true southern tradition, yet we first
read about it in a Boston magazine. Basically, it’s layers of vanilla custard, vanilla (Nila) wavers and sliced fresh bananas. It likes a crown of whipped cream.
We do lots of things with bananas, and pudding is only part of it. Over the years people have found many favorite ways to cook or eat bananas:
The folks over at Chiquita Brands, banana pioneers, tell us average Americans eat 27 pounds of bananas per year. Also, bananas do not grow on trees but are actually huge herbs! An individual banana, in the trade, is referred to as a “finger,” while a bunch of bananas is referred to as a “hand.” And one last bit, if you want to peel a banana without those pesky strings, peel it from the bottom.
Oddly enough, banana pudding can be prepared by baking it OR refrigerating it. Also, over time, cooks have substituted vanilla pudding for the “scratch” original custard from eggs, milk, cornstarch and sugar. Some chose a crown of meringue. Others preferred sponge cake to “Nilas,” or lady finger cookies. There is also a version of Chocolate Banana Pudding which calls for cocoa, unsweetened chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk. Yet another involves the addition of lemon juice and maple syrup. Still others tend to “improve” banana pudding with peanut butter or nutella.
We first read about bananas thousands of years ago in the southeast of Asia. Warriors introduced them to Africa around 650 AD. The Portuguese saw to it the golden fruit spread to the islands of the Caribbean later.
Crucial to a country enjoying banana puddings, made in any fashion, is the availability of bananas. This popular yellow fruit was never available in the U.S. until the 1850s. This was largely due to slow transportation and the rapid perishability of the banana. As ships became faster and more advanced, and banana growing areas spread closer to the U.S., the people began to find more bananas in their markets.
The basic recipe calls for the cook to line a flat dish with vanilla wafers. Top these with thickly-slice bananas, then pour a cooked custard mixture over them.