Tag Archives: mayonnaise

99. Salads (Hold the Veggies, Please)

15 Jun

Cranberry salad by Unsophisticook.
Click for recipe.

When I lived in LA, I witnessed a whole heap of salad eating going on. Here in the Pacific Northwest, folks happily munch on greens of any variety, as long as they’re organically grown less than two miles from their home (Ok, maybe it’s 50, but who’s counting? Locavores, that’s who!). But I daresay there’s no place in the country–perhaps even the planet–where folks eat more salad per capita than the South. Now before y’all start to challenge my completely made up statistics, let me explain: When I say “salad,” I don’t mean a bowl of veggies lightly drizzled with dressing, perhaps topped with a sprinkling of walnuts or cranberries. Oh no. I’m referring to Southern-style salad, which hardly ever features any vegetable as the main ingredient.

So what IS in Southern salad? Well, there are two main categories: sweet or savory. Cool Whip features prominently in the former and mayonnaise in the latter.

Sweet salads include, but are not limited to: fruit salad, pistachio salad, cranberry salad, strawberry salad, blueberry salad (noticing a theme here?), and ambrosia and Waldorf salads (for the fancy people).

Many of the above salads also feature Jello (or Jello Instant Pudding) as a main ingredient. In fact, I think the rule is that as long as you add one other ingredient to Jello, you can call it a salad. The varieties of congealed salad are too many to list, but here are a few I found in my trusty Bell’s Best community cookbook: Apricot Jello Salad, Coca-Cola Salad, Lemon-Lime Congealed Salad, and Miss Dora Sills’ Golden Glow Salad (which involves lemon Jello, pineapples, and carrots. Yum?).

Pistachio salad by Country Door.
Click for recipe.

I should mention that the outlier of the bunch is Waldorf salad, which contains both fruit and mayonnaise. But don’t blame Southerners for that bizarre pairing. It came straight out of the hotel formerly known as the Waldorf Hotel (now Waldorf-Astoria) in New York City. I should also mention that my sister-in-law Karen taught me to make an AH. MAZE. ING. fruit dip using only a pack of cream cheese and a jar of marshmallow creme. Ok, so that’s not technically a salad, but close enough.

In the savory salad category, you’ll find Southern staples like chicken salad, tuna salad (usually referred to as “tuna fish”), potato salad, egg salad, and macaroni salad. This is where you’ll find the occasional vegetable such as celery, green onions, or pickles. Mostly, though, the recipes break down like this: Put a large portion of salad’s namesake ingredient in bowl, add large portion of mayonnaise, stir, and serve. If you’d like to read more about chicken salad, check out what Southern women want by my blog pal, reelingintheyears.

Chicken salad–Hey, who added the lettuce?

I’ll leave y’all with the recipe for one of my all-time favorite salads (also courtesy of my sister-in-law Karen). You might think it sounds more like a casserole than a salad, but it’s CALLED salad, which is good enough for me.

Hot Chicken Salad
2 cups chicken (cooked and cut up)
1 can water chestnuts
1 can pimentos, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup almonds
2 T lemon juice
1/4 t celery salt
1/8 t pepper
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 can french-fried onion rings

Mix all ingredients together except cheese and onion rings. Mix cheese and onion rings together and place on top of mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

What are your favorite “salads”?

78. Mayonnaise–Spread It on Thick

24 Feb

Recently, a non-Southerner suggested I do a post about mayonnaise. Hmm…I wondered…do Southerners have a particular fondness for mayonnaise? Well, it IS a key ingredient in deviled eggs and pimento cheese. And you can’t make tuna/chicken/potato/egg/macaroni “salad” without a heaping helping of it. Even so, I wouldn’t have thought that Southerners use more than our share. I mean, people in Seattle eat mayo…oh, wait! Actually, folks here prefer “aioli.” “What’s aioli?” Y’all might ask (as I did when I first encountered it on a menu). Aioli is mayonnaise blended with a little garlic (or occasionally basil). It’s fancy and flavorful. But, still, it’s mayonnaise.

Now that I think about it, Southerners do seem to find more uses for mayonnaise than they do around here. For instance, you wouldn’t make a banana sandwich with aioli. You’re unlikely to find a big glob of it adorning fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes. And you certainly wouldn’t add it to biscuits or cake. I should note that I, myself, have never used mayonnaise in baked goods. Or lard, for that matter.

I say, "Whisk it!" "Whisk it good!"

When I was around 7 or 8, one of my friends would mush mayonnaise into her black-eyed peas, so naturally, I started doing the same. The experiment was short-lived, but, unfortunately, my family’s memory is long. Any time peas show up, someone will say, “Do you want some mayonnaise to go with those?”

One of my oldest and dearest friends from Mississippi HATES mayonnaise with the passion that others reserve for mass murderers or actors who butcher the Southern accent. Everybody knows not to offer Sandy food with even the slightest hint of mayonnaise, or else you’ll be treated to a diatribe on the disgusting nature of the substance.

One day, when Sandy and I were standing near a movie theater’s concession stand, she made the mistake of leaving her purse unattended. I quickly tossed about 10 mayonnaise packets inside, right on top where she’d be sure to see them. Then I braced myself for the fireworks. (Watching Sandy get pissed off – or even hearing about it secondhand – is a favorite pastime among her friends and family. You can learn how to curse in all sorts of new and interesting ways. My favorite is when she calls somebody a “tick turd.”)

Well, folks, she didn’t notice the packets, and I’d forgotten all about them until several weeks later when she was cleaning out her purse. She pulled all manner of loot from the depths of her cavernous bag: lipstick, receipts, pens, etc. And then she pulled out…a mayonnaise packet. And another. And another.

“WHO put expletive expletive MAYONNAISE in my purse??”

I was too busy cackling to fess up. But, as I have mentioned, I have no poker face-making skills, so she found me out.

“WHY would you put expletive expletive MAYONNAISE in my purse?? It could have expletive expletive EX-PLO-DED, and I’d have to kick your expletive expletive expletive!” There might have been a few more expletives. I can’t exactly remember.

Would I do it again? Probably not. But I still consider Operation Mayonnaise Packet one of the best of the worst things I’ve done. Of course, I would have been horrified if one of the packets had actually leaked in her bag. Most likely, I wouldn’t have lived to tell the tale.

Photo credits: “That amazing ingredient” courtesy of Months of Edible Celebrations blog where you’ll find more info about that amazing ingredient.

“Whisk it” by Devlyn, Flickr Creative Commons

Is mayonnaise a staple ingredient in your kitchen? Have you ever made it yourself? Is it worth the bother?

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