“Mom,” I hear you say, “You wrote a delicious sounding blog about Bananas Foster yesterday. Whence came the name for this dessert?”
You are so polite when I get to make up your part of the conversation in my head.
Since I almost never turn down a request that I’ve made up, I turned to My Friend The Internet for some history on Bananas Foster.
It turns out that bananas weren’t as ubiquitous (go look it up) in the 1950s as they are today, and in those days New Orleans was one of (if not the) major ports through which bananas entered the US of A. Own Brennan, owner of the Amazing Brennan’s Restaurant which you can hear people all over the Food Network “ooh” and “ahh” about, decided to promote this exotic fruit.
Coincidentally, at about the same time Holiday Magazine (which I have never heard of but MFTI has) asked Owen for a new and inspiring recipe to include in an article they were writing about the Restaurant.
So Owen turned to his Chef (although I’m not sure if they capitalized Chef in those days the way we seem to now) Paul Blange for a banana inspired dessert. If then were now, Paul probably would have created something with bacon in the shape of a banana. But then was then, so Paul created Bananas Foster.
The original recipe from Brennan’s is remarkably close to Alton’s but without the allspice and nutmeg (freshly grated or not) and with cinnamon (I am so smart!) and served over vanilla ice cream. It is often made tableside so you can watch the flambé part flambé. Extra points if your tablecloth catches on fire.
Bananas Foster was named for Richard Foster who was a FOO (Friend of Owen’s). Richard was chairman of the New Orleans Crime Commission and “a local civic and business leader.” I’m guessing it never hurts to name a dessert after your local chairman of the Crime Commission.
These days, Brennan’s is still serving Banana’s Foster and they flambé (such a great word) 35,000 pounds of bananas each year (which is 5,000 more than crashed in Allentown, PA for those of you keeping track of such things).
Thanks for asking such a good question.