Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Part of my editing job over the past several years has been to read the food columns that run in the smaller newspapers owned by the company where I work. These newspapers are mostly in the South, and to say that Southern cooking is different would be an understatement. We still laugh about the time one of our columnists wrote about “Deep-fried Macaroni and Cheese with Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce.”

Now we’ve developed methods by which readers can submit their own recipes to the newspapers, creating an online database. That’s how, quite by accident, I found this little gem:

1 package instant butterscotch pudding
2 chopped apples, do not peel
1 small can crushed pineapple
1 cup dry-roasted peanuts
8 ounces Cool Whip
Cooking Instructions: Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Good Lord! I love how this is called a “salad.” As in, “Gee, I need to lose some weight. I think I’ll just have a salad.” Anybody who ate this would consume about 4,000 calories.

I also came across a “Cauliflower Salad” that contained two cups of mayonnaise, 1 cup of cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and 8 to 10 pieces of crumbled bacon. Oh yeah, and some cauliflower.

Lipitor, anyone?

(Photo: Chipped paint in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Sept. 2008. I thought it looked a bit like Earth seen from space!)


  1. Hey, this is a region where macaroni and cheese is considered to be a vegetable. I'd say it is twenty years behind the northeast in terms of organics, etc.

    Your photo yesterday was beautiful, by the way.

  2. The calories are just one aspect of how unhealthy that salad would be. Cool Whip is a petroleum product, and instant butterscotch pudding is no doubt laced with transfat and high-fructose corn syrup, not to mention other hideous chemicals that probably give you cancer. Canned pineapple? Yuck!

    You know I don't worry much about my weight even though I'm supposed to. But I do worry about quality. Yikes!

  3. Many of the recipes I inherited from my mother call for cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup. That was the age of the Durkee green bean casserole. My cooking has strayed back to simple ingredients where I can avoid all those additives. All that processed food tastes good going down, but it can't be good for you in the long run.

  4. Thanks for reprinting my mother's recipe! It is no wonder I'm a mess.

  5. OK, here's the deal -- in the South, anything that has a raw vegetable or a raw fruit in it, even in minute quantity, technically can be called a "salad," but only if it also contains mayonnaise, cool whip, or jello (or a combination thereof).

    My all-time fave, though, is my grandmother's graham cracker/pineapple "cupcake" recipe. I think the only indgredients were butter (lots), graham cracker crumbs, and shredded canned pineapple (including juice). Oh, and a canned pineapple slice and canned cherry on top. There may have been some sugar in there, too. It hurts me to think about it.

    This either totally explains how I became a mostly vegan organic whole food nut or renders my choice totally inexplicable -- I'm not sure which.

  6. I am really struggling to figure out how those ingredients and the word salad can even appear on the same page, but I believe this may be a 'pond' difference.

    Butterscotch pudding ... peanuts ... pineapple ...

    Nooooooooooooo :p

  7. As someone unfortunately now living in the south, the only thing I can reasonably say about most recipes and that one in particular is "Yuck"...

    The only thing that saved my grandparents generation from early death was the fact that they ate whole foods, largely unprocessed, and did not have fast food vendors on every corner.

    It is no wonder we have become a nation of chronically ill fatties. I am happily vegetarian, and while I'm not perfect, I generally avoid southern cooking...especially of this variety.

    Clogged arteries, heart disease and hypertension, anybody?

    Not this woman!

  8. Steve, I've read the recipe for Apple Salad and in all honesty, I think the person forgot two key ingredients to tie the whole thing together:

    bacon bits
    shredded coconut

    (hold on - mental tasting test here - a sprinkle more bacon bits should do it)

    I'll have to mention this one to my husband who still shudders at some memories of the If-it-ain't-fried-it-ain't-food delicacies he ate in the South. Thanks for the memories, Steve, thanks a whole lot. Now where's the baking soda?

  9. butterscotch pudding and canned pineapple... just freaks me out completely

    and they have the nerve to call it APPLE salad.

  10. yuck...yeah, I admit it I'm a food snob

  11. yes, but think of all that great fiber that they got by NOT PEELING the apples!! ::laugh::: I am still amazed at the history of my family, when one Easter there were FIVE bathtubs of heavenly hash, made by the matriarch of five branches of the family. To be truly sweet, you had to get each aside and assure her that you liked HERS best (but of course they were all made with the same recipe, so they were identical!).

  12. steve, this is very funny, esp. because this is the view in England of some scottish cooking - esp. Glaswegan

    see here

    and there were reports a couple of years back about deep-fried-Christmas-dinners, in the same part of the country....