Monday, April 13, 2009
Jell-O, Nasty and Tasty
I've got a thing for Jell-O salad. It is my passion of late, the tantalizer for my taste buds. I'm blaming my sister. After the arrival of our third little boy, she brought over a delicious meal rounded out by red Jell-O salad, complete with bananas and a mix of fruit cocktail. I was in heaven. Ten of us shared that meal, and I think I ate more than half the bowl of jiggle.
I told her how much I appreciated the meal, especially the Jell-O salad. I confessed that I never made the dish. I always stuck to greens or fresh, sliced fruit. When we were children, this Midwestern icon was a staple at our dinner table. Many family jokes came from the sound of the first scoop, like a cow pulling its hoof out of the mud. A childhood friend recently admitted that she associated Jell-O with my family. Is this a good thing?
After I shared my new found food fetish with my sister, she only fed my need for more as she raved about all the possible flavors, colors and fruit combinations. I salivated, droe to the store, and purchased one box of lime and one box of oragne. I felt quite anticipatory as I drove back to my house, imagining the little mandarin oranges that would compliment my creation.
In this age of organic and Trader Joe's, I felt that my act was criminal. There is nothing very Whole Foods about Jell-O. After all, it is not overpriced; one box is quite economical. Everything good and healthy definitely costs more than 25 cents a box. Jell-O is in the same price and quality category as Top Ramen and CheezWhiz. Bold letters on the box read, "Artificial flavors," not multi-grain or whole grain. I actually get a bit of a sugar buzz and yet I still categorize it as salad---something most health fanatics would never do. But for now, I relish all this little box of sugar granuales has to offer.
After the boys are all in bed, I sneak back into the kitchen, stand in the glow of the fridge light, and scoop out some lime goodness. I get giddy about hollering, "Supper time, Jell-O salad!" All I need now is a cow bell and a gingham apron.
After a week of this new side dish, my husband seemed to be avoiding my new love; instead he was concentrating on his lasagna. We were more than halfway done with our meal and he still had not served up any of my much anticipated dish. I prodded. He responded. "Is this going to be your new thing?"
"Do you not like it?"
"No, it is jus that you've never made it before and now we have had it every night this week."
I paused. "I like it!" I heaped up a healthy helping onto his plate, leaving enough for the boys to each have a small serving and for me to have three large ones at lunch the following day. Next shopping trip I'm going to buy enough Jell-O packets to ensure that this American treat graces our table for an entire month.
My husband sighs and digs in, for he knows this craze will pass, just as my Kit-Kat/tea, popcorn/cider and spinach/mayo fetishes all did. But for now...when I need something to sparkle and shine next to a nice pot of roast, I can always find a packet of yummy goodness in the pantry.
(This first appeared in the Newberg Graphic on April 1st, 2009. It was not an April Fool's joke either. My passion is fading some, but I am planning to bring a jello creation to an upcoming potluck. Hope others like it.)
Here is the link for more Jell-O information: http://www.jellogallery.org/jellohistory.html