I’m sure those of you of a certain age will share with mrpeenee a sort-of fond recollection of a delicacy called “Ambrosia.” It was a staple of Southern potlucks and funerals (which are often indistinguishable from each other,) but my impression of it implies that it was a universal of 50’s women’s magazines as well. It was nothing but fruit cocktail jazzed up with whipped cream and marshmallows. Dainty little miniatures ones, but of course. All of which was perfectly fine by me, irresistible, in fact, but it also included shredded coconut, which I despise.
I would try pick it out, a sysiphian task which enraged my saintly mother. I would plead for her to make it without the coconut, whining at top volume, but she refused. “It’s not ambrosia without the coconut,” she insisted, holding fast to the scared rituals of Ladies’ Home Journal. I was never convinced and really, if a seven year old sissy finds your logic spurious, why even bother?
Somehow, of late, I was seized with the desire to recreate the forbidden masterpiece, sans fucking coconut. I was pretty sure I had some genetic disposition to whip it up without a recipe, but I foolishly went online just to make sure. There I found a fascinating (or horrifying. Depends.) version that included cream cheese and Jello. The directions pretty much consisted of “Stir everything together.” And so I did.
Even in the midst of slopping away, some vague remnant of good sense whispered “this is going to be dreadful.” I am a cook who has made fabulous mango soufflés without a recipe, knocked out a pate de mason that required two weeks of effort, and stared down Julia Childs’ most insane ideas without blinking, but here I was recreating a dish that I think they use for half-wit girl scouts to earn their “cooking” badge.
In the end, yes, it was absolutely dreadful. Sweet and gloppy and undistinguished, it was, nevertheless, exactly what my little inner first grader had always longed for and it vividly brought to mind my mother and Aunt LaVerne in their stretch pants and bouffants.
I assume I will put it down the garbage disposal tomorrow.