I had no plans to be alarmist when I woke up this morning. Particularly after yesterday's fish discussion. But there's quite a lot of banana appreciation going on in my house lately, much due to a birthday banana pudding for one aforementioned, pluot-shmooshing 9-year-old. I'd never made banana pudding before. Rice pudding, chocolate pudding, butterscotch pudding, pot de creme -- yes, yes, yes, and resoundingly yes, but banana pudding, until recently, was an unknown beast. No longer. In one fell swoop it has zoomed to the top of the heap.
Anyway, turns out we need to praise these yellow beauties a little more, rather than take them for granted as mere corn flake toppers. According to this recent op-ed by Dan Koeppel in the New York Times, banana importers sell only one type of banana variety worldwide. Yup, one. A thousand varieties grow in Africa and Asia, but only one is sold for import: the Cavendish from Latin America.
Here's the problem: because it's not a diversified crop (like pears, say, with your d'Anjou, Bosc, Bartlett, Taylor Gold, etc.), it's more susceptible to diseases, and a virulent strain of one fungus called Panama disease has begun to spread worldwide. It may reach Latin America within 20 years. If the crop isn't diversified before then, apparently, it could be wiped out. Bye, bye bananas.
So as much as I write about pluots and white raspberries and baby artichokes and other exotica, it's time to give bananas some love. Here's the pudding recipe I made. My only change was to crush a package of ladyfingers in the food processor and use the crumbs in place of the vanilla wafers. Oh, and I omitted the nuts and the mint. (Mint & bananas?) Good choices on my part.
The yield is listed as 6 to 8 servings, but that's a laughable understatement as there was enough for the whole neighborhood, plus all the neighbors' cousins. Make it for a good cause. In fact, do it for the bananas.
As good a reason as any to make a pudding for 16.