One of my favorite food bloggers, Greg Henry of Sippity Sup, asked me to write this guest post as part of his “Savoring Summer” series in which guest bloggers reminisce about their childhood memories of summer. After reading my reminiscence here, I hope you'll click over to Sippity Sup to read the recipe, the rest of the series and Greg's terrific blog.
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Don’t hate me because I’m white trash. Just ‘cause a young Texas girl liked Dairy Queen banana splits, that doesn’t make her a hick. I don’t even have an accent, y’all. Some people just have humble beginnings.
Back when gas was cheap and skies were blue, my parents would take us three kids on summer vacations in our gold Oldsmobile Delta 88. From Dallas, we’d drive somewhere every year—west to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or the Rocky Mountains; east to New Orleans or the Smoky Mountains; or maybe north to Lake of the Ozarks. The USA was our playground, and we valiantly marked our turf. En route, we’d stop at some oases along the highway like Stuckey’s—you know, the place with the big yellow sign with red type that said, Home of the World Famous Pecan Log Roll. I wondered just how world famous it really was. Would a Zulu tribesman know of this cylindrical, nut-encrusted treat? Once in a while we’d venture into a Howard Johnson’s restaurant for some ice cream. My favorite flavor was the apple strudel with pie crust in it. That was a novelty, before the advent of the mix-in. I should have seen it coming. But more often we’d stop at that southern fixture known as Dairy Queen.
Home of the DQ Dude chicken-fried steak sandwich, a Dairy Queen always seemed to be there when you needed one (Sorry, deep-fried dude, but nobody needed you.). In ice cream weather, you could always count on their Dilly Bars and banana splits for a cool respite from the Lone Star sun. The other burger franchises only had milkshakes, but a banana split was a belt notch beyond. A banana, three scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry was the stuff of kid lust. (Hmmm, that sounded a little creepy. Delete thoughts of Pete Townshend and Roman Polanski.) Yep, there was something about a banana split from Dairy Queen that said, Go on now…clean your bowl…be a hog. Welcome to Tejas! So clean our bowls and loosen our belts we did. It was a summer rite of passage.
When we ate ice cream at home, I always wanted to lick my bowl clean to get every last drop. If I did it at the table, my dad would grimace, and in that tone of his, tell me to stop. Then mom would overrule him by chiming in, “Go in the other room and do it.” So I’d take my bowl into the den, and like a cat, lap up every microscopic smidgen of sweetness before returning with my fully sated belly and sparkling-clean bowl. Who needed a dishwasher with me around? Yes, mom and I were partners in cream. I was the butter pecan perpetrator and she was my witting accomplice. Somehow, she would ingrain in her daughter both good manners and a deep, abiding don't-ask, don't-tell policy toward sweets.
Now after living in California for half my life, I can’t recall the last time I went to a Dairy Queen or had a banana split. So I asked myself if I would even like one today, with those subpar ingredients and me being an esteemed gastronomer and all. So to prove that a Dallas girl can go from the hot Texas sun to haute California cuisine, I concocted an upscale banana split with caramelized plantains, vanilla bean ice cream, bittersweet chocolate sauce and roasted pecans. With both states’ proximity to Mexican plantains and a nod to Texas pecans, this reinvention seems only fitting. But after licking my bowl clean, that’s the only thing fitting. Some things never change.
Note: I've never licked my bowl in public, and I swear l'm not white trash.
Get the recipe for the Lick-Your-Bowl-Clean Plantain Banana Split.