Never Had I Ever: Embraced Such a Broad Definition of Salad

Taffy Apple Salad. Click the photo for a recipe (which I can't vouch for, since I've never actually made the stuff).

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?

NOT the kind of jello salad I have grown to love.



Filed under Never Had I Ever, Taste and See

13 responses to “Never Had I Ever: Embraced Such a Broad Definition of Salad

  1. You were serious about a salad post! Awesome!

    Church potlucks are awesome, especially one that involves people of all ages. You get a funky mix of sixites chic dishes and modern delicacies. Everyone eyeballs the stuff they don’t trust but tries it anyway in the name of fellowship. 🙂

    And a potluck is never a potluck without the mini-wieners in BBQ sauce and grape jelly!


    • Jamie, I would never kid about salad.

      I love what you say about potlucks! It is so true, or true in the best of times. On Sunday, I enjoyed the cheese salad that had a special “P. Maggie” post it note affixed to the lid. Potluck love right there!


  2. So glad you did a full fledged salad post. It is a topic worth visiting again and again. My favorite salad is ambrosia. Top Chef had an episode where the contestants had to remake ’60s favorites for the some of the cast of Mad Men. The chef with the ambrosia salad kept knocking it. I just didn’t get the criticism. Mandarin oranges + coconut + cool whip = yummy


    • You inspired me, Beth! Seriously, I know these salads are sometimes comical, but they are very often delicious. I wish I had some more cheese salad in my fridge for today . . .


  3. Jane

    When my mom moved to Canada she was invited to a party and instructed to bring a salad. She brought some mixed greens and a bottle of dressing. All the locals looked at her as if to say “what strange ways you foreigners have!”. My mother, in turn, was horrified when she found out what they had meant. She is still not a fan, in spite of living some forty some years in Canada and the midwest.


    • That’s a great story! When one of my churches has a big, big potluck, there is sometimes one green salad (or lettuce salad, as they are sometimes called), looking awfully lonely in a sea of jello, pasta, coleslaw, and the rest.


  4. Jenny Olsztynski

    Oh, such memories of circle meetings at my childhood church with my grandmother. I went every month. In addition to great casseroles which always includes meet, potatoes, macaroni and some kind of Cambells soup and Velveta, there was always ambrosia….before cool whip. The real deal. I was also a lover of carrot, raisin and pinepple salad. And the line jello with cottage chess and pineapple…..ah memories.
    This was also where we saw movies of our Baptist missionaries in places like Burma the Amazon etc. And a few time a year we got to meet them. I was a huge Lottie Moon fan.
    Thanks for nudging all of these sweet memories out of my brain this morning!


  5. Growing up on the east coast, salad means lettuce with tomatoes, carrots, maybe apples, nuts, etc. We have salad before dinner almost every night. Yes, there are potato salad and pasta salad and I’ve had your Dorito salad, too. So when we went out to Kansas for my Father-In-Law’s funeral I was rather dismayed to see that all of the salads that the church ladies made involved jello and fruit. 12 difference varieties. So midwestern. (And the bread was awful and stuck to our teeth.) They did a great job, and we were all grateful for their time, it was just not what we are used to. And the town was so small that we weren’t heading out to a grocery store any time soon to just buy lettuce for salads. When we landed back in NJ and were driving home my husband asked what I would like for dinner. My answer…”Lettuce!”


  6. The travel channel has a new Zimmern show, Strange Foods in America, or somesuch, and the other night it was a Hot Dish/Salad competition. The winners were an elk casserole thing and a rasberry frozen salad w/ jello & cool whip. 🙂


  7. Oh my, the jello recipe made me feel woozy, for a minute there I thought I was coming down with your flu. LOL Hope you are better 😀


  8. Pingback: Say it with Potlucks | Never Done It That Way Before

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