Make a list of things that make East Sussex stand out as a special and unique place to live, and it will be long and diverse.
Among other things, as a county we can proudly claim credit for being the birthplace of television, the place where William the Conqueror began his invasion of England, home of one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and the place where Winnie the Pooh lived.
But up there towards the top of the list is something which has left a sweet legacy across the globe…Banoffi Pie.
A slice of history
Beloved by many, this rich, sticky, creamy pudding is often mistaken as being an import from the US. The truth, though, is that its origins are far closer to home.
Credit for the pie’s invention goes to Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding, the owner and chef of The Hungry Monk Restaurant in Jevington. The story goes that they developed the dessert in 1971 by amending an unreliable American recipe for “Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie” with a soft toffee made by boiling an unopened can of condensed milk for several hours.
Various fruits were tried before Mackenzie suggested banana and history was made. The dish proved so popular with customers of the Hungry Monk that they couldn’t take it off the menu.
Its fame, undiminished to this day, spread quickly. It was, apparently, Margaret Thatcher’s favourite food to cook, the recipe was adopted by many other restaurants throughout the world, and the word “banoffi” has been accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary for anything which tastes of bananas and toffee.
Sadly, Nigel Mackenzie died in 2015 and the Hungry Monk Restaurant is no more. But there is a blue plaque on the wall of the building in the village to commemorate its creation. So next time you tuck into a delicious slice of banoffi pie, raise a proud glass to a taste of East Sussex.
Make your own with this banoffi pie recipe.