There are two foods Southerners are powerfully passionate about: barbecue and banana pudding. Let’s go ahead and stipulate Eastern North Carolina vinegar and red pepper-sauced barbecue is best and move on now to … wait… where did half of y’all go?
Oh, well. On to banana pudding, which is honestly on my mind most of the time but especially today because of a story in “The New York Times” lauding the truly awful version sold at New York’s iconic Magnolia Bakery.
After reading the story I decided to join the comments thread LIKE A CRAZY PERSON. I wasn’t coming from a place of ignorance. I’ve eaten the banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery and it is, well, abysmal. Holding up that doorstop of a puddin’ with minimal bananas and maximal clog as an example? Nuh-uh. (To be fair, which I just hate, the story was primarily promoting the “power of instant pudding mix.” I’ve certainly tossed a box of pudding mix into a cake mix for loft and flavor so I’m not a complete snob.)
But banana pudding? Just no. A homemade custard is required. I’d sooner put sugar on my grits or utter the phrase: “If you can’t find Duke’s, just use Miracle Whip.” (That last the ranting of a lunatic I’m sure you would agree. )
Something about swooning over that instant pudding-using Magnolia Bakery banana pudding went all over me. Not only do they use instant pudding mix but also a can of sweetened condensed milk. This sent me to my fainting couch (What? You don’t have one?) where I experienced legit vapors. The cloying sweetness of boxed pudding AND condensed milk. Hard pass.
The comments flooded in after my post which advised, as calmly and charitably as I could, to always use the recipe on the Nilla wafers box but be sure to double the custard amount and always top with real meringue. This ensures perfection every time.
As it turned out, hundreds and possibly by now thousands of folks had Very Strong Opinions about banana pudding. Many of them were dead wrong and all we can do is pray for ’em.
Some readers were surprised at the, er, intense nature of the thread. These people are probably the kind of folks who say things like “I don’t vote for the party; I vote for the candidate!”
I’m more aligned with folks like “Marylou…” who wrote: “This stuff is actual garbage. My granny makes it way better.”
As with any comments section, there was the obligatory above-it-all’er. “Wow. Comments about pudding can sure get mean. I hope people get as angry about some other stories in the news today.”
Hope that Superior Dance didn’t throw your back out “Jennifer…” You’ve brought a slotted spoon to a knife fight. We need these petty public squabbles to give us the illusion of control. This was the same weekend there was a weird balloon in the sky taking pictures of us in our underwear. Also, some fool just said you should use Chessmen instead of vanilla wafers so, basically, shots fired.
Another said: “Fix it however you like it and enjoy it with a smile!” Weirdo, am I right?
But I was all in with “Teensy…” who wrote: “Nana puddin’ (extra points for correct spellings) should include homemade custard…layered between banana slices and wafers and…baked with meringue on top. Otherwise, it’s something you eat from a school cafeteria.” “Artcandy…” called Magnolia’s version “dreadful and shameful” and ultimately as disappointing as banana pudding found at any 7-Eleven…”
Of course, like all popular threads, it didn’t take long for the “what are you doing on here” bots to jarringly announce “I made “millions by following these simple steps” or “I had to know what’s happening to my partner cause he has changed…”
Bots always spoil the puddin’.