Home > 2nd Chances > Bananas Foster – The Devil’s handiwork

Bananas Foster – The Devil’s handiwork

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I recently got the hankering for making some Bananas Foster for my family.  I had seen the dessert highlighted on one of those food shows on tv and it looked pretty straight forward to make.

In fact, here is the recipe:


– 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/4 cup banana liqueur
– 4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise, then halved
– 1/4 cup dark rum
– 4 scoops vanilla ice cream


  • Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet.
  • Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
  • Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan.
  • When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum.
  • Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum.
  • When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream.
  • Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.

As I looked over the recipe I noticed two ingredients that I don’t carry in my pantry… Rum and Banana Liqueur.  So the only way I was going to be able to make an authentic Bananas Foster for my family was to make a visit to the local store’s aisle of devil water.

What a quandary. I don’t drink.. not because of religious convictions but more out of the practicality of avoiding the issues that drinking can cause.  Plus it is expensive and I don’t care for the idea of being out of control of my senses…even a little bit.  That is not what caused the quandary though.  Just about every church that I have ever attended has taught against drinking whether calling it a sin or admonishing the members to hold a good witness by abstaining.  I don’t exactly adhere to either of those teachings as the first is contradictory and the second creates a legalistic position based on a moralistic appearance of righteousness.  And though I wasn’t going to be drinking the stuff and I don’t adhere to those teachings, I still had reservations about publicly buying alcohol to make a dessert.

So a couple of questions for you readers:  What would a good Christian do?  And why?

  • Would they buy the alcohol and make Bananas Foster?
  • Would they make Bananas Foster without the alcohol and use a non-alcoholic banana flavoring in its stead?
  • Would they just steer clear of Bananas Foster completely to remove any hint of possible witness issues?

Just to throw another wrench into the works – what about the use of Nyquil or other medicines that contain alcohol?

Also, so that you know how I proceeded on this position, the above recipe was delicious… the whole family loved it.

  1. July 21, 2010 at 8:18 am

    I admire your thoughts tony. It is good to see that there are people who think about the implications of their actions. I too have struggled with this as a pastor-not the using part but the teaching part. I was one of those legalistic dudes at one time-preaching about the evils of alcohol and how imbibing of any amount is simply not…well… Christian. I also know the evils of going too far. I hate to admit it that much of my convictions were ill-founded and manipulative. What would I do/say now? Go for it. You know in your heart why you are buying it. Your family knows. As for me eating that? Not a chance with cinnamon and the cholesterol count sky high. 🙂

    • July 21, 2010 at 2:39 pm


      That is one of the reasons that i respect your thoughts. You are able to look back and admit where you have messed up in the past. I can remember having adamant discussions with people on the ills of alcohol based on what I was taught until I finally studied the word for myself. It sure is a humbling experience to find you have been supporting unfounded beliefs.

      And.. if you ever decide to have Bananas Foster – go for a small helping. The stuff IS rich.


  2. July 21, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Tony, I totally get your questions on this matter. Living in the south, I also understand the way most Christians (down here) view alcohol. You’d honestly think Jesus never turned water into wine just by talking with some of them.

    If you were asking my opinion (which you did), I see absolutely no problem with it. I also know you would be utterly disappointed with your bananas foster if you were to just use banana flavoring… Buy the liqueur, and keep it in a dark, cool place for those special nights when you make bananas foster for your family again.

    Even my great-grandmother (who had quiet a big hand in raising me) made her cough/cold syrup the old-fashioned way…with hard liquor. She never raised a glass other than in that way, as far as I knew. But she understood the benefits of alcohol, without the “buzz” factor that some people try to achieve. Does not Paul even say to drink wine for your many stomach ailments?

    Not only that, but Jews and even early Christians drank to celebrate, at special occasions, even just at every evening meal. But even at that, the warnings given in the Bible about alcohol attest to their understanding that alcohol (just like food), in moderation, is acceptable, but one must always use caution in the amount. Gluttony of any form is not pleasing to God. It’s the same case with overuse of alcohol.

    In the end: buy the liqueur, and enjoy your dessert!

    • July 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm

      I somehow overlooked the rum in the recipe. Of course! Rum is a must in these kinds of recipes! Think Rum-butter apple pie. It wouldn’t work without it. (And I’m sure you know that the alcohol count really is cooked off, leaving just the flavor).

      • July 21, 2010 at 3:00 pm

        Great points, Joy.

        I have often wondered when the American church started teaching total Abstaining and Prohibition on alcohol. And I think it is weird that, though they teach against alcohol, that it’s ok to have cough syrup and the like for medicinal purposes.

        I am a HUGE proponent of teaching moderation and even abstaining for the right reasons.

        As you probably were able to ascertain from my post, my biggest qualm with this recipe was that I would have to purchase the alcohol… not that I would have to use it or eventually consume it following the alcohol burn-off that cooking creates. I was more concerned with how others may perceive that purchase.

        And that bothered me because that meant that there is still this legalistic righteousness that is embedded in me to some degree. I will have some readers that will automatically say – “That is the conviction of the Holy Spirit working in you to stay away from alcohol.” To them, I would answer, “When does the Holy Spirit contradict God’s word?”

        I am interested in seeing if there are others who will have different thoughts from you and Bill.

        Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. July 21, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    quiet = quite. 🙂

  4. randy morgan
    July 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    my “alcohol theology” is almost exactly like yours, tony. except for a very occasional social drink with friends, i do not drink alcohol. however, i regret the damage done by generations of extra-biblical teaching.

    if your main hesitation to “publicly buying alcohol” is what someone might see and ultimately think, be set free. the believer who would judge you is not worthy of your consideration, and an unbeliever would think nothing of it. paul said it this way:

    “But, except for these special cases, I’m not going to walk around on eggshells worrying about what small-minded people might say; I’m going to stride free and easy, knowing what our large-minded Master has already said.” (1 Cor 10:29 – The Message)

    • July 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm

      Thanks for weighing in, Randy. This appears to be one of my ‘heritage flinches’. I do take the occasional swig of Nyquil though I have never been tempted to drink the whole bottle 🙂

      I hope you had a wonderful vacation (or are still on it)…. and I look forward to a day when I can return the favor and buy you dinner. We can talk about how the truth shall set us free (unless, of course, the heritage flinch kicks in).

  5. Heather York
    July 21, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    You have ALWAYS been the one about “who cares what people think” , its funny that you get so hung up on things like this. I agree with Randy the small minded people’s opinion doesn’t matter anyways.

    Have you thought about that maybe just maybe one of the people that know you and know that you study the Bible might believe that the drinking is wrong because what has been told to them over the years and that seeing you buy something might make them go read their Bible to prove you did wrong only to discover that there isn’t anything wrong with it.

    But I do admit it had to be quite funny if you were watching us trying to buy the stuff we needed not having a clue what we were looking at.

  6. Amy
    July 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I am glad you enjoyed your “Banana’s Foster”, I say the next time our families get together, you make the dessert!
    This was a great post, a great question to pose and something I too have wondered. It honestly seems to me that there are legitimate points for both not being seen buying or drinking it and for not concerning yourself with who sees you buying or drinking it.
    I have struggled with it plenty of times. I truly believe that it is between you and God. As Paul said in Acts 24:16 “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.”
    We each have different convictions when it comes to the do’s and don’ts in life. Legalism should be avoided, Jesus certainly didn’t dig it, and neither should we.
    I agree with the above commenters, be set free, balance is key, in purchasing or consuming and you can’t live life worrying about what everyone thinks.
    I have found in life that as far as men are concerned, they believe what they want to believe and if they see you buying alchohol and think it’s wrong…that’s what they will think. You may tell someone you abstain from purchase and consumption and they could think that is wrong. Simply seek to please God. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6
    As I was rambling here this verse also came to mind…
    1 Corinthians 10:23 “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.”

    For the record, when I am at the store and I pick up some kind of alchohol, I do look over my shoulder…I think about what someone from church would say or think if they saw me and most times I decide to put it in the cart and move on. I do try and get to the checkout quickly and get it in a bag 🙂 Terrible right?

    • July 23, 2010 at 2:58 pm

      It sounds like Bananas Foster is on the menu the next time our families have dinner. 🙂

      I have to work on the whole flambe aspect of the dessert. I discovered after my ‘covert’ purchase of rum that to accomplish the flaming result, that the rum must be of a higher proof than the stuff we bought. You would have thought the recipe would have mentioned that little aspect.

      The whole topic is funny because: What the heck is a ‘good’ Christian? And why did I care about buying an ingredient for a dessert that, when cooked, was no longer alcoholic? It just goes to show that we ‘Christ followers’ are a confused bunch on some things.

  7. Linda M
    July 25, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Tony York,

    These are some of my thoughts on whether you should be seen in a store purchasing alcohol for a dessert. Here in Canada we have to go into a specific individual store that sells only alcohol. For example, if I was seen in a store like this there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind who knew me that I was there to either look at alcoholic beverages or to purchase them.

    a scripture that came to my mind was Paul saying that if his eating of meat sacrificed to idols was going to offend or cause another believer to be emboldened to do the same and eat this meat when they did not understand or have the knowledge of this freedom, then he would never consider eating this meat again.

    Other things I think about concerning this alcohol dilema.
    -do you have to make a dessert that contains ‘rum’? Are there no other dessert receipes that appeal to you that you could make instead?
    -What if someone sees you who is also a christian and says ‘Tony is a godly and spiritual man, if he buys alcohol then it must be ok’. However, this other person becomes tangled up in liking alcohol too much and consumes way too much. do you then bear some responsibility for this excessive behavior of your christian brother around his drinking habits? Do you want to risk it? Do you know for an absolute surety how God stands on this kind of circumstance between you and your brother? Will you be judged on these ‘works’ toward your brother?

    These types of thoughts and ideas about alcohol are controversial becasue they are difficult to be determined with absolutes according to Bible scripture. One of the apostles says in his writings to avoid controversies. My thought is, it’s just not worth the taste of the ‘Bananas Foster’ dessert to put yourself and others through this dilema.

  8. July 25, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Linda M,

    Thanks for your great questions. Let me ask why we seem so concerned about this one topic when it comes to ‘the stumbling block’ message but we are unconcerned about other areas in our lives that could lead our brothers and sisters to gluttony, greed, lust, materialism.

    Should we never visit a retaurant or have a piece of pie? Should we never enter a video store or movie theater? Should we never own homes, boats, cars?

    The bible has much more to say about how we manage our possessions and money than it does alcohol… Yet the American church struggles with alcohol for its members while preaching a prosperity and comfort gospel.

    I don’t raise these questions to disagree with you but to point out our propensity to pick fringe issues to create moralistic, hyper-legalstic, religion while ignoring the mission of stewardship.

    I will spend some time thinking om your points as they are global in the southern baptist tradition and I would like to better understand their origin.

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