A Lucky Tradition Spreads. No one knows for sure exactly when this happened, but the various ingredients blended to create a new New Year’s Day tradition in Southern kitchens. Perhaps enslaved African American cooks in plantation kitchens came up with the idea of substituting the dark “eyes” of the black-eyed peas for the first footer visitor after hearing about the tradition. European slaveholders, including those of English and Irish heritage, may have had the same idea after noticing how the enslaved held field peas in high esteem. Another possibility is that Sephardic Jews who came to the South, especially those with a connection to Syria, inspired others to copy their custom of eating black-eyed peas for good luck on Rosh Hashanah, their New Year’s Day. In any case, a new and enduring tradition was born.
Banana pudding has a long history dating back to the 19 century, there isn’t much information available. What I did find is that bananas began to be marketed in the United States around the 19th century. Cooks were fascinated by this exotic fruit and began using them in existing recipes of cooked puddings and baked custards topped with meringue. A 1902 cookbook contains recipes for fried bananas, baked bananas, banana pudding, and banana cake in a section called Hawaiian recipes.
In 1901 Nabisco began marketing vanilla wafers. No one seems to know which cook was the first to line the pudding dish with vanilla wafers but it caught on quickly, especially after Nabisco began printing the recipe on their vanilla wafer package. Banana pudding is a dessert common in the Southern United States.
I personally do not care for the vanilla wafers so I use chessman cookies.
Living in the South means you will always have cornbread dressing at every holiday dinner. Of course you can make this dish any time you have a taste for dressing. The first time I had the pleasure of eating dressing was at my sister in law’s house. I got the general recipe from my Mother in law Farrie. When I would ask her how to make it, she would say: ” a lil of this and a lil of that” :). It took me some time to perfect it, to the way I make it today.