If you plan to have any of us over as my mom used to say, “You pays your money and you takes your chances”. The truth is if we love and respect you, you’re home free. We’ll eat what you serve and smack our lips. But remember this, “Anything you serve, can, and will be used against you when you’re not around.”
And here’s the worst part: We secretly like some of these foods. We just would never try to pass them off as real food at a social gathering. I am including a list of the food products we consider fake and therefore unacceptable.
First and foremost is Margarine. Margarine is an abomination before man and God. Butter is a little bit of God. Margarine is a graven image. Cooking with it is unthinkable. Eating it is a sin and can leave your reputation sullied for years. I know that 15 years ago my grandpa ate margarine on a plane. I wasn’t on the plane, but certain people were, and word got out. It won’t be forgotten.
Next is Cool Whip. Such a common item as to be almost a matter of punctuation in the prose of a truly bad meal. Any permutation of whipped topping is bad. Adding the prefix “lite” will only make things worse.
Dehydrated food is almost always verboten. I can’t think of any exceptions except maybe beef jerky. This means the following shall not cross our lips:
Potato Buds, aka potato butts. Unacceptable in almost all situations, although there are those of us who really don’t care about the starch course in a meal. Whatever the white stuff is, it’s merely a vehicle for the sauce. Good gravy or butter can redeem almost anything.
Onion or garlic powder or salt: my mom could smell it blowing in from the neighbor’s kitchen. If it’s cooked, I hardly notice, but I still wouldn’t dream of serving it to guests. Especially my family.
Any food that was once in an envelope. Unless it is lipton onion soup and you are putting it in sour cream to make dip. This exception exists because my mom said so.
Lemonade: Don’t even bother if you don’t have lemons. And lemons are not plastic.
Jell-o or anything made with it. Don’t get me wrong here. Secretly I like jell-o. I just have enough pride to not bring it out in public. If my mom or siblings were to look in my cupboard, I’d tell them it was for in case someone gets sick. Jell-o is only officially sanctioned in the context of a clear liquid diet.
Once recently when I asked my dad (whose ideas of decent food are much more flexible, and probably honest) if I could bring anything to a family gathering. When he told me I should bring something made with Lime Jell-o, I had to wonder if he was just trying to torture me. He wasn’t. But after my siblings smacked their lips at my jell-o and cream cheese concoction, they told my mom on me. Rat finks.
In this instance I violated a number of food taboos. The jello one was just the most obvious, but the worse sin was mixing real food with fake food. Cream cheese is one of the staffs of life. Mixing it with anything fake is disrespectful to the cream cheese and makes people think you don’t know any better.
With a few exceptions, almost anything that started out in a box or a can will be ferreted out and take you down. This includes, but is not limited to BisQuick, StoveTop, Betty Crocker potatoes of any kind, Rice-a-Roni, instant pudding and boxed cake mixes (Much to my dismay, because I just don’t like cake enough to make it from scratch. Cake is all about the frosting,which should be made from scratch).
The punchline here is that my mom (the matriarch, creator and enforcer of this strange system of beliefs) loved Raspberry Zingers. If things ever got ugly about what someone bought, made or served, those two words could put her back in her place.