As a kid you don’t really question the names of things, but as we grow older we may notice the inconsistencies of our language. Salad is one such inconsistency. As a child I never once pondered why a fruit dish heaped in whipped cream would be called salad and served with the main meal. Even as I learned to make whipped cream for said fruit dish, I never once questioned why it was called salad. It was what it was and I did not question it (I’m sure there is some existential story in here if I really dug for it). Perhaps it’s because my family didn’t eat many salads made from greens, they were too expensive. But at some point I asked, why do we call this salad?
This question grew when I first started visiting buffets and was baffled to find mousse and whipped cream at the salad bar. Aren’t they supposed to be on the dessert bar? Why do we call it chicken salad? Why do we call it egg salad? While you can argue the token celery and green onion in chicken salad, there were no vegetables in our egg salad.
The fruit salad my mom made was a monument to the 60s and 70s. The ingredients were easy: canned fruit salad (canned grapes are really, really sad), an apple, a banana, and as many maraschino cherries as you thought you could afford to include dressed with whipped cream. As whipped topping came down in price the whipped cream was replaced with whipped topping. Fruit salad was served at holiday dinners as part of the meal, not to be confused with the pie that we would have for dessert. By the next day it was a sad dish as the cream would have started to separate, the bananas turn brown and mushy, and you could see the poor canned grapes. All the maraschino cherries would have been dug out by then of course.
So this is not my mom’s fruit salad. I’m sure her original recipe would have called for coconut; however, since she did not like coconut ours never had it. Tropical fruit would have cost way too much when I was growing up and nobody but health nuts eat yogurt. This salad will last a couple days in the fridge without separating looking sad. I kept the maraschino cherries though, but you might want to wear gloves when you cut them in half. They can stain your nails. Continue reading →