Comfort Food

Comfort Food

Bananas Foster

My husband, Joe and I ate our way across New Orleans a couple of times.  Both of those adventures included dinner at Brennan’s with Bananas Foster for dessert!  Bananas Foster became a popular dessert at home, too … and every single time I made it, I had to hear the story about Joe’s pet tarantula.   Joe and I both grew up in Southern Illinois, the land between America’s two mighty rivers … the Mississippi and the Ohio.  

River trade, which became prolific with the middle 1800s because of the creation of the steamboat, brought many things to rural Southern Illinois.  At the same time, boats were carrying to New Orleans wheat and corn … The boats delivered (from New Orleans) fresh oysters to the port in Cairo, Illinois (a town right at the southern tip of the state).  The boats delivered fresh tropical fruits including bananas.  Those big stalks of bananas were then delivered to local grocery stores across the region.  Produce grocers were responsible for separating the ‘hands’ of bananas from the stalks.  There is where the big ugly spider comes in!  They were frequently found hiding in the big stalks.   A grocer, who normally killed them, saved one for Joe because Joe had been begging him for one!  Joe’s pet tarantula lived several months, but mysteriously disappeared over a weekend when Joe had gone on a camping trip.  I’m sure his mother had something to do with that disappearance!  I cannot count the number of times Joe told this story to our dinner party guests as I assembled the ingredients to make my Bananas Foster sparkle!

Bananas Foster continues to be the number one dessert in the Crescent City!  This popular dessert found its way on many New Orleans menus because of the fact that bananas came into the Port of New Orleans and the city had plenty!  More than plenty! 

Recognition of Richard Foster at Brennan's

Owen Brennan owned the popular restaurant and his sister, Ella, managed it.  One afternoon in 1951, Owen told his sister to create a unique dessert to honor the New Orleans Crime Commission Chairman, Richard Foster, a close family friend.  A banquet honoring Foster was scheduled in the restaurant and would begin just a few hours later.  The story says that Ella said, “Damn you, Owen” but rushed to the kitchen to get creative.

What did she grab first?  Bananas!  She remembered how her mother used to caramelize bananas for their breakfast when they were children.  That is what she did … adding rum and banana liqueur and flaming the dessert at the table for the guests to see!  A final quick dash of cinnamon made the flames sparkle.  Ella had been impressed by Baked Alaska as it was flamed at a competitor’s restaurant, so she was determined to out-do that performance!  Served over ice cream, Bananas Foster stills rules!

Bananas Foster

This banana topping is delicious as originally served over ice cream.  Try it over pound cake, waffles, pancakes … or over your favorite bread pudding recipe!  I usually prepare one banana per person!  I almost always use butter pecan ice cream instead of vanilla.  There are many flavors that would be wonderful.



¼ cup butter

⅔ cup dark brown sugar

3 Tablespoons rum

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 bananas peeled and sliced

¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans

Vanilla ice cream



In a heavy deep skillet, melt the butter.  Stir in the sugar and vanilla and when the mixture begins to simmer heavily, add in the sliced bananas and pecans.  Cook the bananas for a couple minutes.

Now is the time to ‘flame’ the rum as you pour it in and have your cinnamon ready to add to the flame!  Why?  Because the cinnamon will cause the flame to sparkle.  You almost need 3 hands to do this, so ask for some help.

The original preparation included flaming, but you don’t have to do that if it scares you!  It is impressive, though.

Serve the warm topping over ice cream.

This post is part of my 2021 project, Foods Named after Famous People!  I'll share it on a couple blog parties, so look at my short list on my sidebar!  You can find more posts about famous people by clicking my menu tab!  Enjoy!


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