Last winter I was talking with another rural Minnesota pastor, a Seattle native who had been mysteriously assigned to Southwestern Minnesota. He served faithfully, but was never quite at home.
Nowhere was this more clear than at the WELCA (Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) luncheon that fall. He took small helpings of the hotdishes, not enthused but not wanting to offend. One of the ladies looked at his nearly empty plate and said, “Oh, you must be a salad guy!”
Filled with hope, the pastor looked around. “Salads? Where are the salads?” He looked in vain for a table filled with leafy greens and fresh vegetables or fruit. But alas. Because this was rural Minnesota, she was talking about . . . the Other Kind of Salad.
Taffy apple salad. Jello salad. Frog Eye Salad. Chinese salad. Cheese salad. These are a few of the delicacies I imagine the pastor saw that fall afternoon. He was most definitely a salad guy, but not the kind of salad usually on offer in this part of the world.
Oh, sure. You will sometimes see a green salad, or maybe a fruit salad (but “fruit salad” means canned fruit and cool whip–the kind you might be thinking of is a fresh fruit salad).
This is not an exclusively Minnesotan thing, of course. Even in the suburbs of Chicago, my Grandma B served up a variety of jello-with-fruit-in-it sides at Christmas, and in Milwaukee, I was partial to a church potluck specialty called “Dorito salad.” This, in fact, was basically a green salad with crumbled Doritos in it. (I know. I know.)
But it’s in my nearly two-and-a-half years of small town Minnesota residency that I have come to truly embrace the Salad in its many amazing forms. Maybe it’s because as a vegetarian, the salads are usually a place of refuge for me. Maybe it’s just because familiarity breeds, not contempt, but fondness.
Or maybe it’s because taffy apple salad tastes exactly like taffy apples, but is called a salad. So it’s clearly healthy. Right?
What’s your favorite salad or potluck delicacy?