Saturday, February 16, 2008

Salad


I have recently finished reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, in which he imparts a few gleanings from seemingly millions of hours of research for a mere $13.95. His recommendations were insightful, believable and, importantly, well-written. I loved it.

The cover contains, in brief, everything you will read inside: Eat Food, Not too Much, Mostly Plants. When I finished the whole thing, I swore to diverge even more from what Pollan calls Nutritionism, or the belief that any food's benefit can be calculated in the sum of its nutrient parts (at least the nutrient parts of which we are aware). He encourages, nay, implores us, to eat food, for cryin' out loud, and to free ourselves from the belief that Omega-3 infused pop-tarts will make us heart-healthy. He offers suggestions: don't eat something that contains ingredients you can't pronounce, eat meals at a table (desks don't count), and shop the periphery of the supermarket, where food your great-grandmother would recognize as food resides.

But there I was on Thursday afternoon, deep in the belly of the supermarket's center aisles. I was on a dark errand, but I had no choice. I swear. They made me do it. Before I could cry out, beg to bring a salad that involved leaves, insist that I hadn't lived in Utah long enough for this moment to be real, I found myself lamely saying "Sure, I'll bring a Jello salad to Brother Clawson's funeral. I'd be happy to."

Jello. It has it's appeal (it's sweet! and jiggly! and fluorescent!), but it's not a food my great grandmother would recognize, and, despite my most heroic efforts, I cannot pronounce Dimethylpolysiloxane on the first try (although I'm sure glad they threw some in, since it evidently prevents foaming). Oh, well. If a funeral gathering of Salt Lake City old timers want eight servings (at least!) of Jello salad, I must oblige.

Too tired last night from my six-mile shuffle, I woke up at seven thirty on this fine Saturday morning to begin constructing. I shredded carrots, drained a coupla cans of crushed pineapple. I will admit to childlike glee as I poured water into the Jello powder, turning it other-worldly orange, and to small satisfaction as the addition of ice cubes delivered the promised quick-setting jello. I watched it go from powder, to fluid, to gum in moments flat.

Here's how she turned out:
I know it's not the best picture you've ever seen, but I didn't dare take it out of the fridge; I only have an hour and a half before the funeral and it's definitely not road-worthy.

In case you ever get conned into making a Jello salad (or if you secretly like it and want to make and eat the whole pan yourself for dinner...c'mon, you know it's pretty good tasting...) and your grandmother isn't as helpful as mine was (she was a real dream and gave me every Jello salad tip in the book, including directions for this creation, and assured me that anything I made would be acceptable, bar none, because that's just how Jello salad is) you can go here (where Jellosalad is one word!) for tips.

5 comments:

Jacki said...

Are you seriously up early enough to blog? I signed in to try to sum up the Jello salad adventure I had over here but I think you said it best. I would like to say that the packaged food era dates back further than we would like to admit. Phyllis is old enough to be our great-grandmother and that lady knows her Jello salad. Also, if that woman is as old as she, and as healthy as she is, then maybe it's time I opened my mind to the possibilities of artificially flavored powdered collagen. Not that I'll be taking any bites today.

Zillah said...

congratulations: your jello salad is the spitting image of every ward dinner i've ever attended.
would you rather use jello or real gelatin? this might be a time when one would prefer to use something unpronounceable...

amy said...

fauxzilla- i simply preferred Western Family brand for its economy and, i thought, foolproofness. i would have had no idea where to begin with gelatin, but Western Family gave me all the directions.

jacki-you make a good point. perhaps i should trade in my regular salad for the jello variety more often. i do want to end up as much like phyllis as possible...

Jami said...

I made jello once for a ward party and it didn't set. I scooped it out with a serving spoon and put it in a bowl, I think I was hoping it could be more like that other kind of jello salad that involves cool whip. But without the cool whip. It was a mess and Mohamed begged me not to take it to the ward party. Amira ate a spoonful, and that was it for my jello concotion.

Kelsey said...

That is just revolting. Carrots! I still think that really insensitive things like jello jigglers in the shape of hearts with army guys inside would have been the way to go. I mean, if you never wanted to have to bring jello again. Or even be invited.