Death by Jello Salad

Mom’s Word of Wisdom for today seems very apropos considering our dinner at Le Jules Verne.  Mom can take a lot of credit for that because I listened to her wise counsel when she taught me:

“Don’t be a picky eater.  People who are willing to try new foods lead more interesting lives.”

Now some of you can see the problem with the logic of this advice right away.  It is based on the erroneous assumption that a person should want a life that is interesting.  You know who doesn’t want to live a “more interesting life”?  Smart people, that’s who.

Smart people want to live boring lives with good retirement plans.   My mom could have taught me, “Be a picky eater and marry a boring banker with a good investment portfolio.”  But she wanted me to live “an interesting life” and manipulated me into thinking that I wanted to lead one too.  And I bought it, hook, line and sinker, because nothing, aside from the obvious other thing, has affected the trajectory of my life more than my willingness to try new foods.

Think I’m exaggerating?  I based an entire romantic relationship on food for goodness’ sakes!  I talked about it at length here, but the tweet version for the ADD among you is this:

“He asked me out to dinner so I moved in with him for two years.”

What does that tell you about me?  (Well, other than I was probably pretty easy.)  It tells you that I was really hungry.  The 60s and 70s food was TERRIBLE.  And the childhood years of really awful food made me ripe for the picking. Marc came along and single-handedly rescued me from the world of horrible American potluck casseroles and weird food.  Like Jello salad.

Here are some true examples of real jello salads from my childhood.

Um. When is it ever really the time for olives, celery and CHEESE submerged in lime jello?  And notice that we had to eat one at least once a week.

And then there is this:

What the heck is it with LIME jello and cheese anyway?  That stuff is just gross and it isn’t improved by the addition of cheese.  Or Seafood.

Not even Thanksgiving was safe.

Look at those poor kids.

Why? What was it with this fascination with floating a mélange of completely unrelated food items like marshmallows and carrot shavings in a brightly-colored gelatinous mass of congealed melted horse hooves? It’s gross and it was served everywhere when I was a child.  And it wasn’t just Jello. There was SPAM, too.

This SPAM recipe isn’t so bad.

But here’s a meal I like to affectionately call, Vomit in a Peach:

Vomit in a Peach

SPAM came up with an ad like this that convinced moms that SPAM every night was like having seven different meats.

SPAM served seven different ways is still SPAM!

Then the processed food manufacturers conspired together with Ladies Home Journal and Woman’s Day and came up with recipes like this:

Pork and Bean Pizza

Yes, that’s Pork and Bean Pizza.

And then there is the infamous Candle Salad culled from the pages of the 1957 Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls.

This recipe’s description, “It’s better than a real candle because you can eat it” speaks volumes about what they were feeding us in the 60s and 70s.  Food was so bad that we children sat around the dinner table wishing we could eat the candles instead.  
I think now we have our answer to my question above. The reason I was so susceptible to Marc’s charms wasn’t really because I’m easy or because I lacked good judgment or solid morals.  No. The reason I ran off with Marc is because the food from my childhood was so gawd-awful.  I wasn’t picky, Mom; I ran off with the first man who walked by and offered me something to eat besides Spam and Jello and Baked Bean Pizza. 
So, Mom. Thanks. It wasn’t your fault that you fed me such crap.  I know you would have done differently if you’d known any better. Maybe in my life I should have been a wee bit pickier, but, thanks to you, I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff I might not have eaten if it wasn’t for your wisdom. 
For a real walk down Gastronome Memory Lane, check out The Gallery of Regrettable Foods, especially Meat! Meat! Meat! You’ll laugh. You’ll cry.You’ll wonder why you didn’t die.

12 thoughts on “Death by Jello Salad

  1. Well, I'll show up and be Oppositional Girl, and say that my Mom was a really good cook. And that I am working hard on forgiving her for the "canned (because they were cheaper) vegetables". As a child, I remember being puzzled by the name "green beans". When all the world could plainly see they were closer to gray than green. Yup. Canned vegetables were how my Mom truly fell victim to the charge of serving regrettable food, because, those WERE regrettable. I regret every vitamin-starved, nutrient-depleted mouthful, that was served up with the very best of intentions. They ALMOST convinced me that vegetables were nasty. Because those were!

  2. I found this little gem of a recipe on Wiki:"In the United Kingdom spam is often sliced, battered and deep-fried becoming known as 'spam fritters', and is still a popular way of eating Spam today."Do you 'ave any Spam?

  3. We ate "grey beans" too, Susan. I do NOT hold my mother responsible for the entirely regrettable foods of the 60s and 70s. It truly wasn't her fault. And if it hadn't been for her wise advice I might still be eating food like that today. It was only because I learned to try new things that I have had the joy of eating that I have. I really do thank my mom for that.

  4. Stephanie, Ugh.A while back I had the opportunity to try SPAM again and it was just as overly salty as I remembered it. Although, in truth, my mom did make a nice spam/pineapple/french's mustard/cornflake dish that wasn't too bad. And that's the truth!

  5. We ate SPAM whilst doing cultural studies – didn't have it again…I didn't get those delights in the 70s (wasn't around much in the 60s) we were too busy being Quaker hippies. Lots of bean sprouts and lentils 😉

  6. lol. We all have our culinary crosses to bear, don't we Missus Wookie. I'm curious though. What does a Quaker hippie do exactly? Inquiring minds want to know.

  7. Hahaha! I haven't laughed that hard for a long time. Thank you!  Even then I could not understand WHY people thought carrots and jello went together. These were the same people who liked yams and marshmallows– with red hot candies.  Oh boy! It took me years to muster the courage to try a real yam.

  8. Copper's person, Ah, the memories, huh? Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope these memories of food-gone-by doesn't give anyone heartburn or bad

  9. Chloe, you know Missus Wookie blogs her Quaker hipness, right? I suppose I should call my mom right now and thank her for my Southern childhood that consisted mostly of vegetables right from our own garden.Even if she did somehow fail to teach me how to successfully garden for myself…?!

  10. Hahaha! I haven't laughed that hard for a long time. Thank you!  Even then I could not understand WHY people thought carrots and jello went together. These were the same people who liked yams and marshmallows– with red hot candies.  Oh boy! It took me years to muster the courage to try a real yam.

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