Always room for Jell-O s-a-l-a-d at Christmas?
Friday, December 19, 2008 | 12:44 PM ET
By Jessica Wong, CBCNews.ca
Around this time of year, facing a series of impending holiday dinners, I usually harken back to a funny story a friend recounted years ago about her first Christmas dinner with her in-laws.
Like me, she comes from an Asian background and a family that doesn't celebrate a long tradition of the usual Western holiday meal (i.e. centred around a turkey or roast plus all sorts of fixings).
Though she is an adventurous eater and a foodie, my friend was bewildered — and a bit horrified — by a bizarre dish she encountered at that dinner: a wobbly concoction proudly presented as "green salad."
Moulded gelatins from a bygone era (Chaloner Woods/Getty Images)
I still laugh when I think of her description of the odd, wiggly, electric lime-coloured, cream cheese-laced concoction and her attempt to bypass the dish. Her suave manoeuvre actually resulted in a larger-than-ever-intended portion when her partner's mom noticed it missing from my friend's plate (it was, naturally, mom-in-law's specialty). A few years later, mom-in-law shook things up by using orange gelatin instead of green!
Though I'm a Jell-O fan, I've always thought of gelatin as a dessert food — the idea of "green salad" still strikes me as weird. But typing "green salad" and "gelatin" into Google brings up a plethora of recipes featuring countless variations: with horseradish or pineapple mixed in, studded with sliced or chopped nuts, topped with whipped cream, etc.
Though I do recognize that there was a time when all manner of food was "captured" in aspic — wasn't it considered the height of elegance? — I think I'd probably only manage a polite spoonful of "green salad" if it appeared on a table before me.
What weird, wacky or strange holiday food traditions have you encountered? Have any become a part of your annual holiday table?
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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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