My kids tasted a Mid-west specialty today: sweet jell-o salads. If ever there was an oxymoron, this is one. And yet, I loved these as a kid -- no, that's too strong a sentiment to be used for such a dish... I happily served myself these rather than go for the vinegary, oily normal iceberg salads which were the other option --, and I remember the pleasure I took joining my grandmother Locket as we filled our plates at the breakfast buffets with sausage, french toast, and jell-o salad, often improved with evaporated milk and canned fruit cocktail. Well, neither the green nor the dark red version pleased my kids. It is true that they prefer their food recognizable. Having all the ingredients mixed together and indistinguishable rather took away from the pleasure of eating berries, grated carrots, pecans, pineapple, and who knows what else on their own. I consider myself rather an adept at figuring out recipes by their taste, texture and visual clues, but my kids aren’t yet food puzzle-solvers. So, having politely tasted the bits I put on their plates (I just couldn’t let such a cultural moment be passed up), they ate a bit of normal salad (green leaves and grated carrots), lasagna and garlic bread.
So yes, you can infer that though I was raised on banana and apple-laced green jello, my kids have never before had such a treat. Have I deprived them? Goodness, nothing like being back in the US for more than just a couple weeks to start seeing and tasting foods rarely glimpsed since my departure for foreign shores. Green bean and tuna casserole can’t be far off.