Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding — Down-Home Comfort

Related To:

Banana Pudding

Photo by: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Banana pudding is the epitome of old-fashioned country cooking. Yet it’s based on the English dessert called trifle made of layered cake, custard and fruit, often served in a special footed glass serving dish. There are no fancy dishes used for banana pudding. The iconic banana pudding receptacle is a square-shaped Pyrex glass baking dish. Practically every “meat-and-three”-serving restaurant, old-school cafeteria and BBQ joint across the South has a shallow aluminum pan or Pyrex dish of silky banana pudding on its cold line ready to serve up. Nothing fancy, no ordeals — just easy and delicious.

How did banana pudding become such a quintessential comfort food dessert? Fruit companies, including the precursor to the well-known Chiquita brand, the United Fruit Company, started importing bananas from Latin America in the 1870s. Much of the imports came through the ports of New Orleans and Charleston, S.C. It’s not a coincidence that a great deal of Caribbean sugar was shipped to those ports as well. Thus, New Orleans became famous for a different banana dessert, bananas Foster. Then, in 1901, Nabisco began marketing vanilla wafers. Soon thereafter, recipes for banana pudding started popping up in Southern cookbooks. It was an inevitable love story.

Banana Pudding

Photo by: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Banana pudding lovers really love banana pudding. It’s creamy, layered, easy and delicious. Warm or cold, it’s pure down-home comfort. No fussing, no fretting. Eaten at a greasy spoon or a truck stop or your grandmother’s dining room table, it’s likely to produce the same result: an ear-to-ear smile of complete contentment.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y'all , among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.

Next Up

6 Valentine’s Day Desserts for People Who Just Aren’t That Into Chocolate

If you don't click with the classic Valentine's Day flavor, aim for a fruity pink and red dessert instead.

How to Make Whipped Cream

And make sure it lasts in the fridge.

5 Graduation Dessert Tables That Deserve an A+

Study these stylish displays and you’ll have no trouble creating your own when it’s time to celebrate your grad!

Your Weekend Cooldown: Frozen Peanut Butter Bites

If the summer heat has you bogged down, take refuge in this easy-to-make frozen dessert.

Individual Desserts Guests Won't Be Able to Stop Talking About

Cakes are great, but tiny sweets you don’t have to share? Even better.

What Is the Best Time to Eat Dessert?

For some people it might be better to eat dessert before dinner.

Peaches Aren’t the Only Fruit You Can Grill — and These 5 Desserts Prove It

Give everything from berries to mango a major flavor upgrade.