Friday, September 2, 2016


Image result for Blueberry pie filling congealed salad

Sis just e-mailed for Mother’s Pretzel Salad recipe, and I confessed that I never had made it, and had never even had the hankerin’ to.  And then I had to remind her of the dreaded Blueberry Thing which made the rounds of Garden Club luncheons and Rehearsal Dinners in the early eighties, appearing on everything from treasured Royal Daulton salad plates to the almost-ethereal styroform saucers so beloved of church kitchen suppliers and school lunchrooms.

I still think of it as THE DREADED BLUEBERRY THING, though it was usually billed as Blueberry/Black Cherry Salad, and though it gives me a bit of a quease to speak of the stuff, if weird salad HAS to have a place, it's probably HERE, in my ramblings about little Southern quirks and curiosities.   I know the stuff COULDN’T have been as bad as I remember it---too many nice people made too much of it---gallons and bowls--- and there was probably no Pyrex 9x13 in nine counties that hadn’t cuddled a clumpy thick black sheet of the stuff.

Church Suppers were rampant with it, for a while there---one Second Saturday I counted SEVEN of the glass oblongs on the table, each set down with a flourish and a JUST SO nudge to the angle, so as to appear better and more beautiful than the next. Mission Impossible. And that was out of a total attendance of perhaps forty---had it not been for Miss Bessie Kiihnl and her always-anticipated BIG pot of Chicken and Dumplin’s and Mrs. Kilgore’s huge Magnalite of Spaghetti and Meatballs---well, there woulda been many a stop at the Arby’s drive-through THAT night.

And quite a few Feed-the-Young-Folks-Before-BTU evenings in Fellowship Halls featured little rounds of Styrofoam cushioning a leaf of iceberg with a square of the quivering blackish grue set neatly to the side of the dinner plate. You could tell the kids whose Mamas Had Raised Them Right by their merely pushing the block with a tentative poke, then hiding the furtive wipe-of-the-fork on their napkins. The truly unmannered let their EWWWWWs be heard, and a couple with No Raisin’ a-Tall actually uttered, “Not AGAINNN!” for all to hear.

The unfathomable-to-me conglomeration was a mixture of Black Cherry Jello and CANNED Blueberry Pie Fillin’---despite the proliferation of gorgeous blueberry patches and the bounty of the fresh ripe fruit, the recipe CALLED FOR CANNED Lucky Leaf, and the lemming cooks plopped that gluey blue-black clump of sparsely-fruited thickening right into the mix as confidently as Miz Paula with butter. The whole thing assumed the look and demeanor of the Oil Slick That Ate Tasha Yar.

Time and therapy have dimmed whatever other ingredients went into the dish, but the colors and the texture remain---the flavor kinda between the tang of an old penny and a mouthful of wasp-bitten persimmon ferment, embedded with the too-earthy uuumph of old beets, is forever embedded in memory---a testament to follow-the-leader cookery which has led so many otherwise wonderful cooks astray.

Do not try this at home.


Beverly said...

Eew!!! is so right. And, just to be certain all bases are covered, I will throw in a big ole yuck. That doesn't look good or sound good. I am happy to say that I seem to have missed out on the opportunity to imbibe this all together.

But, I will say that I still love congealed salads. My favorite always, always features lime gelatin. There is just something so refreshing about it. Just the answer on the hot and humid day of summer. And, let's not forget the joy of watching it jiggle.

Kathy said...

This sounds awful. I guess being a Yankee I missed out on this lovely concoction. Not that I would ever have eaten it. I hate Jello and run from the very sight of the box let alone the actual jiggly thing.

donna baker said...

It looks good, but never had a pretzel salad.

BeachGypsy said...

well I never had that one.....but do you remember "cherry delight" and "blueberry delight"? how bout "the pink stuff" and "the GREEN STUFF".....the cottage cheese/jello/fruit mix-ups? Mercy we still see those on thanksgiving tables....and guess what??--just maybe this year I will make a batch or two myself! ha ha ha LOL.....gotta teach my grown daughter the ropes, you know! LOL Better go stock up on pineapple........and didn't it have marshmallows??

Chronica Domus said...

Golly, you almost had me wanting a bite until you wrote "too-earthy uuumph of old beets". Well, that sealed the deal for me! I absolutely HATE beets and I blame it all on my little infant school making me eat them as part of my school lunch, which they provided to all students daily. No, didn't want to touch them but a trip to the "slow table" and the embarrassment of that little trip just put me off beets for life.

I'm constantly fascinated with these recipes that use canned fruits and vegetables in lieu of the real deal. I covet a recipe from my late mother-in-law that used canned cranberries, canned milk, and saltine crackers, among other ingredients. It would always be a part of her Thanksgiving dinners and I was in awe of it. I'd never seen anything quite like in in England and it was my guilty pleasure of the day. I simply loved the way it tasted!

steelersandstartrek said...

A belated guffaw over the oil slick reference. I embrace the appropriateness of that description to theglop you're recalling.

Time and therapy! I will have to remember that turn of phrase as well......

Kim S. said...

I have to confess that of all of the congealed salads that I love, THIS one - the blueberry THING is one of my favorites.