There are worse places to kill several hours than Community Q BBQ, as I discovered when I locked my keys in the car in its parking lot. I was already a fan of “The Q” as a comfy place for smoky barbecue, collards and decadent mac ‘n’ cheese.
While waiting for AAA to come to my rescue, I discovered a new favorite thing: their banana pudding. This was a thrill — albeit a modest, comforting one — because it tastes exactly like banana pudding should. It’s made with real custard — eggs, milk, sugar — rather than commercial pudding mix, which is often the norm.
Banana pudding is one of those dishes that seems to have always been around, as both a Southern dessert staple and a comfort food mainstay. Home cooks all around the South, including Atlanta, went mad for it in the early 1920s when recipes featuring mass-produced vanilla wafers started appearing. Before then, the pudding was a fiddlier production involving slices of cake or home-made cookies. The Atlanta Women’s Club Cookbook of 1921 offered a recipe calling for two boxes. Once a recipe for the pudding appeared on the side of Nabisco’s Vanilla Wafers in the 1940s, the dessert became ubiquitous.
Community Q upholds the original tradition, serving a simple pudding without topping in Styrofoam bowls. The pudding is poured in and assembled while still warm, then cooled down in the refrigerator. When you spoon it up and bring it toward your mouth, its vanilla-banana perfume wafts in. The texture is thick and cooling, with a rich milkiness that maintains its texture for a few seconds before it starts to melt on your tongue. Banana slices are even colder than the pudding and offer a hint of resistance; vanilla wafers, softened from sitting in the pudding, separate into sweet, velvety crumbs.
For the record, you don’t have to be stranded to indulge in Community Q’s banana pudding. If your keys get away from you, though, it can turn a difficult situation into a delight.
Community Q BBQ. 1361 Clairmont Rd. 404-633-2080. communityqbbq.com
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