I love the Mid-Century Menu for so many reasons. Well, not for taste reasons, but there are a lot of other good reasons the Mid-Century Menu is awesome. One of them is that it gives me an excuse for my ridiculously huge cookbook collection. Another is that it gives me new techniques and recipes to try even if dishes don’t turn out as planned.
The third reason I love it is that Tom and I get to do something really fun together during the week. We both enjoy planning and making the Menu, which isn’t a traditional hobby, but it is still really fun for us.
So,” Tom said last week as we were paging through cookbooks, “I think we should do gelatin for next week’s Mid-Century Menu.”
“Ohhhkay,” I said, “What do you have in mind?”
“How about this?” He held up the Gel-Cookery Recipe Book, published by Knox in 1955. I felt a little thrill of disgust go through me. I don’t like gelatin even when it is fruit flavored, and Jellied Eggs taught me I didn’t like it savory either.
“Do you have a recipe picked out?”
“Yeah,” he said, his voice evil, “this one.”
“Ohhhhhhhhhh no. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. I really mean it. No.”
“Oh yes,” he nodded his head, ” This is perfect. It has Spam in it. It’s even two layers.” He was really excited.
I sighed. “Fine. Let’s make the grocery list.”
Poor little ingredients. They never even had a chance.
Here is the first round of gelatin, all mixed up and ready for the fridge. Now, I don’t use gelatin in cooking at all, so even though I wasn’t looking forward to the end result, it was still an interesting process to go through. Especially since I couldn’t imagine what the gelatin of this layer was going to taste like. It had a lot of lemon in it, so was it going to be lemony? Or taste like Spam? Do I really want to know?
The celery and Spam all diced up and ready to go. Oh God!
No mayonaise is an island. Except for this one.
I get it now! Mayonaise flavored gelatin! Of course!
Quiet down now, guys. I can’t think over all your screaming. Especially you, Sara.
No, this isn’t the Twilight Zone. That is actually mayo flavored gelatin with Spam and celery in it. And it is ready for the fridge. Shudder.
While the Horror in the Pan solidified in the fridge, I started on the next layer, which was basically tomato gelatin.
With chopped, hard-boiled eggs in it.
Yeah, cause that’s natural. Sure.
The hard-boiled eggs trying not to drown in the chilled tomato gelatin.
And here it is, poured over the Spam layer. And it DOES look a little like barf.
Even though it is vile, I am still proud of this unmolding job. See! Only slightly messed up! Still Disgusting Dinner Picture Perfect, though.
In the background is the side dish, Golden Salad, which also unmolded with no problem. Huzzah!
A cross-section, to show off the hard-won layer effect.
“Are you ready for this?” I was trying to get Tom psyched up. “Are you ready?”
“Okay,” he said, rolling his head on this shoulders. “I can do this. I’m ready.”
He took a bite.
And then looked confused.
“Is it horrible?”
“This,” he said slowly, “is the strangest thing I have ever eaten.”
“You say that a lot now,” I said, and I took a bite. It WAS completely and totally the strangest thing I had ever eaten. The mayo and Spam layer actually wasn’t that bad. It just had a really bizarre texture. The tomato egg layer was even weirder. Everything was really slippery and cold. It wasn’t a pleasant sensation in your mouth.
About halfway through my slice, I was done. After awhile, it started to gag me.
“I don’t think I can do this.”
“This must be diet food. Because I sure don’t want to eat anymore.”
We came to a standstill about 10 minutes in. I had eaten about two-thirds of my slice, and Tom had eaten two slices and the rest of my slice.
“We did it.”
“Good for us,” Tom was looking around, “Now where is that chocolate pie?”
Spam and Egg Gelatin: Weird, but not disgusting. The texture is what really puts you off at the end. The gelatin was too much for me after awhile, and I had to stop. Tom says he will finish the leftovers.
Golden Salad: Surprisingly good. I thought this would be nasty, but it was good and not too sweet. Tom said it tasted like a traditional gelatin salad with fruit.
Brown Derby Black Bottom Pie: Good. The texture of the pie is a little strange, but you get over it pretty fast. Tom ate three peices. But don’t try topping it with whipped, sweetened evaporated milk, which is what I tried out of laziness. It melts really fast. As you can see, the topping didn’t even make it through dinner. Use whip cream or Cool Whip.