Monday, September 07, 2015

How to Make Banana Pudding

Recently I was at a work meeting where the caterer provided banana pudding.  The person in charge, who is not American or Southern, said how good this caterer's banana pudding is.  It was ok. "It's not as good as my mother's," I had to opine, and another woman there said that banana pudding in Alabama was a priority.  The caterer's bananas pudding was institutional-tasting pudding, scanty wafers, and some hidden bananas.

I was reminded of a colleague from China who teaches cross-cultural communication.  She said that when international students come here, they hate macaroni and cheese and think it's gross.  "It's because they are eating that crap out of the box, not my mother's!" I said, opining again.  She also said that after six months they liked it, probably because they are poor college students and that is all that is available.

That is the anecdotal prelude to my recipe here for banana pudding.  We came in possession of some bananas unexpectedly and I decided we needed one for Labor Day weekend.

You need good COOKED pudding, bananas at the right point, and high quality wafers.  None of this instant pudding (the thought makes me want to get sick).  Use the six-serving amount, at least.  The bananas have to have lost all their greenness and have a few brown spots, but still quite firm.  There is a small window on the bananas.  And while it probably doesn't matter about the vanilla wafers, Nabiscos were on sale at the Food Lion so I used them.

Get a pretty casserole type dish.  Presentation does matter.  Start cooking the pudding.  From scratch is best, but as long as it is cooked, the package is all right.  The stovetop method is better than the microwave.  Once it is cooked (starts to boil) take off the burner for just a bit.  Now, line the bottom of the casserole with wafers, then slice as much banana as you like.  I just used one, but that's up to you.  Then pour a third of the still hot pudding on it.  HOT is the operative word here.  Then layer again, and again.  Cover and let sit for several hours in the frig.  Later you can put the cool whip on it.  Cool whip will separate if put on hot pudding.

Actually, my mother used to make the old-fashioned variety with meringue, which required having egg whites and baking it to make the meringue toasted.  That is the best, but the above is a compromise, especially on a hot muggy day in early September when you would rather enjoy the pudding than turn the oven on.

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