A Christmas Gone Bananas
The Portuguese traveler Manuel Gonzales ventured through Great Britain during Christmas time in 1788. He found a “variety of puddings" and some other items the most conspicuous among British Christmas dishes. As North American we have a British culinary footprint that continues to shape the foods we make and eat during the Christmas holidays. But two other cultures have also shaped the Christmas foods that we eat. If you have southern roots like my family when you think of a holiday pudding, you might think about rice and or banana pudding. Both are creolized southern dishes. Southeast Asians introduced bananas and new species of rice to West Africans before the start of the Atlantic slave trade and African cooks made milk based puddings before coming to the Americas. Rice pudding showed up first in the slave quarters of the rice producing regions of low country South Carolina and Georgia. Later the United Fruit Company of Boston first started importing bananas to New Orleans, Mobile, Alabama, and Galveston, Texas at the turn of the century. Thereafter southerners started making rich and delicious banana pudding.