Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Lick-Your-Bowl-Clean Plantain Banana Split

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.


  1. Sounds delish and thanks for the story. I actually worked at DQ for a couple of months one summer while in HS. Fortunately, it turns out, the manager was gay but had the habit of putting his hands where they shouldn't be and I quit after finding a job in a Greek run grocery. The exposure to all things Greek made an indelible mark and I've got proper Feta, yogurt and Kalamata olives in the fridge to prove it. I'll be sure to check out Sippity Sup as well.

  2. FM: Love your story! I guess it was serendipitous because you wouldn't want to have DQ Dudes and Dilly bars in your fridge today (You should turn your account into a short story with all the lurid details).

  3. There's a Dairy King (I know, crazy) not too far away...banana splits rule the summer!!!

  4. I used to date a guy from East Texas who used to patronize DQ very faithfully. He would even find it so noteworthy that he would tell me what he ate there (chicken-fired steak and other delicacies) each time.

    All of a sudden , I feel the urge to go get one of those.
    Love your plantain dessert by the way, I want one!

  5. Man, all those childhood memories of DQ and ice cream are unleashed by this post. We used to unfold cardboard ice cream cartons and lick off the last bits. Without leaving the room! The DQ hot fudge sundae is an American icon, still. In about 75 years, maybe the plantain split will be, too.

  6. You brought back so many memories from childhood but mine were at the Sugar Shack. Mine sounds way cooler and the treat was a "kiss a float."

  7. i thought i commented on this already but then I thought maybe i commented on sippitysup? i love the shout out to DQ. can't go wrong with a blizzard!

  8. Yep, I grew up in the hills of Arkansas and it was the battle of DQ vs. Tastee Freeze, but only DQ had a banana split. I'm smitten by your haute banana split - esp. now that my taste buds have been Californicated ;)