The Soul Food Pod Episode 6: Is Banana Pudding A Black Thing?
“Banana pudding may be a Black thing, but it’s easy enough for anyone to make – and everyone to love!” —Shaunda Necole
What is the best way to prepare Southern banana pudding?
On The Soul Food Pod episode 6, recommendations for making Southern banana pudding include keeping it clean and integral with whole milk for silky pudding, Nilla Wafers cookies, and slicing bananas while layering.
Host Shaunda Necole takes us through the history and significance of a classic soul food dessert: Southern banana pudding – the Black way.
From its African roots to its quintessentially Southern preparation, Southern banana pudding has a special place in the hearts – and taste buds – of many.
Shaunda answers, “Is banana pudding a Black thing?” and discusses its history and cultural significance, tracing its roots back to Africa.
Is banana pudding a Black thing?
Netflix’s original series, High On The Hog, exposed many so-called American fruits and vegetables that are actually African motherland derivatives.
This is because African foods were brought to North America during the horrific slave trade – the origin of how banana pudding has African American history.
Bananas are one of the fruits with a West African heritage traced back to about 650 AD. Two African banana varieties crossbred to yield the seedless banana we know and enjoy today.
Why do people love old-fashioned Southern banana pudding?
It’s because homemade banana pudding is Southern comfort food at its finest. A soul food specialty!
And Southern banana pudding has an old African American history.
Shaunda, with her mom, Mama (Ma-Ma) Mary, gives tips and tricks for making the perfect banana pudding, including using certain ingredients and avoiding common mistakes, including the importance of using Nilla Wafer cookies and whole milk.
Shaunda and her mom also talk about the role of bananas in African-American cuisine and how they have become a staple in the South.
Finally, they reveal Mama Mary’s classic banana pudding from scratch recipe (old school soul food banana pudding) and the only substitutions for making banana pudding the Black way!
Banana pudding the Southern Black way
Bananas are a staple in the South. And Southern banana pudding is a delicious dessert that can be whipped up in minutes.
It’s perfect for any occasion!
It can be prepared in the morning for a same-day treat!
And this soul food version has all the best flavors and texture combinations that will make it a family favorite.
You’ll never be able to look at other banana pudding the same way once you’ve tried this soul food delicious delight – Southern banana pudding prepared the Black way!
How is homemade banana pudding with the wafers made?
Banana pudding is a signature Southern soul food dessert served on a bed of Nilla Wafers cookies and layered with round banana slices between yummy whipped topping, pudding, and cream cheese.
It’s pure bliss – also known as soul food!
Banana pudding has a Southern identity that stretches back more than half a century – African American banana pudding history.
Who came up with the recipe for banana pudding?
Black Southern banana pudding is an elevated version of the once-English trifle turned American cuisine.
How can the history of banana pudding be described?
African American cooks in the South took a native African fruit (the banana) and reimagined this layered, originally English custard dish to perfection!
How did banana pudding become a Southern thing?
This dish became quintessentially Southern, probably due to the source of where it was primarily prepared, providing the South with a more extraordinary claim to the dessert.
James Hemings, an enslaved African-American chef in Virginia, created baked mac and cheese and used whole milk as the recipe’s vital ingredient.
Similarly, the African-American recipe for banana pudding incorporates whole milk to give the pudding a rich, smooth, and silky consistency, like homemade custard.
Is banana pudding a Black thing FAQs
How ripe do the bananas have to be for the pudding?
This recipe uses sweet ripe bananas. So look for a firm banana with bright yellow skin and brown spots.
How do you keep the banana pudding from turning brown or black?
To prevent bananas from browning, slice them just before layering them with the pudding to create a barrier between the bananas and the air, slowing oxidation.
How do you keep the banana pudding from getting watery?
First, make the pudding using a thickener, and then keep it cool.
This African American banana pudding recipe incorporates cream cheese as a tasty thickener.
Other old-fashioned banana pudding recipes include evaporated milk and sugar or sweetened condensed milk to thicken the pudding.
Can instant pudding be used in Southern banana pudding?
Yes, instant pudding can be used in Southern banana pudding and works just as well as homemade or cook-and-serve pudding.
Soul food cooks have found that you can make a banana pudding recipe with pudding from scratch or instant pudding, and still, each will yield a delicious Southern banana pudding recipe!
Can you use banana pudding instead of vanilla?
Of course! But vanilla pudding is part of African American history when preparing banana pudding.
What can you substitute for Nilla Wafers in banana pudding?
Part of the nostalgia for African American banana pudding and its history is Nilla Wafers cookies. Therefore, it’s not recommended to try substitutions for these integral cookies.
There are simply no substitutions.
Not even sponge cake, vanilla extract, vanilla bean, and definitely not other brands of vanilla wafers, brown sugar cookies, or vanilla cookies.
Ask any Black mama, auntie, or grandma, and they’ll tell you that Nilla Wafers is the official cookie of African American banana pudding!
What is the significance of whole milk in Southern banana pudding?
Southern Black recipes for banana pudding incorporate whole milk for a rich and smooth consistency.
Why is banana pudding popular in the South?
Enjoyed by generations from North to South and East to West.
Banana pudding has a Southern identity stretching back over half a century.
This dish became quintessentially Southern, probably due to the source of where it was primarily being prepared, providing the South with a more extraordinary claim to it.
Why is banana pudding associated with BBQ?
What is the best way to serve banana pudding?
With family and friends! This is why banana pudding is associated with BBQ in the South.
Potluck style, family style, or as part of a Southern cookout or BBQ menu is how Southern banana pudding is best served.
What is the difference between Southern banana pudding and other types of banana pudding?
In conclusion, Southern banana pudding is considered the best way to prepare banana pudding and has the best flavor and texture combinations, making it a family favorite.
It’s an elevated version of the Americanized English trifle and was perfected by African American cooks in the Southern US.
Where can you get Mama Mary’s old school soul food banana pudding recipe?
You can get Mama’s old-school soul food banana pudding recipe exclusively here in this post’s recipe card below.
Or listen for how she prepares her Southern banana pudding recipe on The Soul Food Pod episode 6.
Links & resources mentioned in the episode:
- African American banana pudding history
- Southern banana pudding the Black way
- Black folks Southern tea cake recipe
Transcript Ep. 6:
The Soul Food Pod – Episode 6 Transcript
Where to listen to the podcast:
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Amazon Music
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- Double boiler pot
- Hand-held electric mixer or stand mixer
- 9×13 or similar size baking dish (preferably with a lid)
- Or 2 qt. glass bowl (preferably with a lid)
- ½ cup sugar granulated
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup flour
- 3 eggs large
- 5 bananas ripe, sliced into banana rounds
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 11 oz. Nilla Wafers cookies 1 box (and ¼ cup of crumbled cookies)
- 4 oz. whipped cream
- Fill the bottom pot of a double boiler with two inches of water and set it on the stovetop over medium-high heat, and allow it to come to a boil.
- Meanwhile, while the water heats up in the pot, use a hand-held electric or stand mixer to combine the eggs, milk, sugar, salt, and flour to make the pudding.
- Add the pudding mixture to the top pot of the double boiler.
- Cook uncovered over the boiling water at the bottom of the pot for 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly until the pudding mixture thickens.
- Remove the double boiler from the stovetop and stir the vanilla extract into the pudding.
- Once the pudding has thickened, spread a layer of the vanilla pudding evenly over the bottom of the baking pan or dish. (Reserve enough pudding to make 2 more layers.)
- Add a layer of Nilla Wafers.
- Then add a layer of banana slices over the Nilla Wafers.
- Repeat the above steps for three layers of pudding, cookies, and bananas to make 3 layers of each, ending with a pudding layer.
- Top with whipped cream and then the crumbled cookies to garnish.
- Allow the banana pudding to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Banana pudding is easiest to slice after being refrigerated, then serve, and enjoy!