Guest Post: Maya Angelou and Banana Pudding

JM: The friend whom I called in a panic after being told that a PhD candidate in aerospace engineering wanted to taste me is named Adams. At least, to me he is Adams. Not Adam, the singular name given to him at birth. Adams, because his worth simply can’t be contained in just one Adam. He is a faithful friend and confidant, and shares many of my interests. He also makes me laugh a lot, so I asked him to share a post here, and he kindly obliged. The recipe (8 eggs???) isn’t converted to metric because he doesn’t have Anglophilia the way I do.

Hi everyone! Adams here, Jenny’s bosom companion and part-time advisor on sundry issues. Let me begin by saying that I’ve finally overcome my panickedness at that one fellow’s OkCupid line and delivered to Jenny a ready retort, which would be “I may taste great but I bet you’re less filling.”

The comebacks to stupid questions are not always as snappy as they were in MAD Magazine, but they do come.

Anyways. Recently, we lost Maya Angelou, who did a heck of a lot of living and writing within the span of her life. I found out awhile back on an Oprah interview that one of the things she’s done is a cookbook, and that Oprah’s favorite recipe out of it is the banana pudding.  So I present you with Maya Angelou’s recipe for banana pudding.

– ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
– Pinch of salt
– 3 cups milk
– 8 eggs, separated
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
– 3 cups vanilla wafers
– 4 ripe bananas, thinly sliced
– ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large saucepan, combine 1/cup sugar, cornstarch and salt; stir until blended. Mix in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and boiling. Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat.

2. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, then whisk in about ½ cup of hot custard until blended. Pour yolk mixture back into saucepan of custard; cook over medium heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in butter and vanilla until blended.

3. Place vanilla wafers on bottom of a shallow 2-quart casserole dish. Top with layers of banana slices and custard. Repeat layering, ending with custard.

4. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and ¼ cup sugar at low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar; increase speed to medium and gradually beat in remaining sugar. Beat until egg whites hold stiff peaks. [JM – hehe, ‘stiff’]

5. Spoon meringue over hot custard immediately, making sure that meringue touches baking dish on all sides (this prevents it from shrinking). Transfer to oven and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove pudding from oven and cool 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

…and that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But I think it sounds a little clinical, especially coming from Maya Angelou. Sometime back before she passed, I decided to try and figure out what exactly a banana pudding from Maya Angelou should really sound like. I present it here again now, with respect/apologies to the great lady.

A Pudding of Bananas

In a large saucepan
as wide as the sky
I put my sugar
the cornstarch and salt
I stir until blended,
with powerful thrusts
and turns of my spoon.
I mix in the milk,
and cook until thickened
and boiling like the fire
that resides between my hips.
I touch my mixture to the heat
and draw back quickly.

In a bowl that’s small,
like the voice of somebody
lost at sea in a raging storm,
whisk egg yolks
and hot custard
then bring it all together.
Let it all come together
over the fire.
The creamy white butter
and the rich, dark vanilla
together in the heat.

Into the depths of my casserole dish
plunge vanilla wafers
and building up in layers
alternating resentment and redemption
the banana and the custard.
And in the end, the custard
crowning, triumphant.
Let a light meringue
of egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar
fall over the whole
as though an angel’s blessing.

And with that said, we now return you to your regularly scheduled Jenny, and I shall return to where she found me (unemployed in Greenland.) Have a good one, folks.


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