If I were to ask you what the state snack of Utah is, how would you answer?
Green Jell-O, right? And you would be correct, because in 2001, our Legislature (with encouragement from Bill Cosby) made it official.
It was nice to see us poke fun at ourselves, and why not? Other people feel free to, so we might as well join in all the reindeer games. Like I always say, party on, Garth!
At the time, though, I distinctly remember thinking that it had been a long, long, loooooong time since I'd seen an actual nonironic green Jell-O salad in captivity. In fact, the only time I ever saw any kind of Jell-O was at holiday dinners when people just naturally get all sentimental about the dishes their grandmothers used to make, such as green bean casseroles with Campbell's mushroom soup or Bugles filled with Cheez Whiz.
Truthfully, Jell-O in Utah seemed to have gone the way of resin grapes those centerpieces that graced Mormon coffee tables up and down the Wasatch Front during the 1960s. (My friend's mother had champagne-colored grapes. When Christmas came, she always put those grapes atop a silky cloud of angel hair, and, honey, I got filled up with the Christmas spirit just by looking at them.)
Relief Society grapes were everywhere â¦ until they weren't. Almost overnight, the grapes became a symbol of bad taste, a hallmark of a culture's lack of sophistication.
It was the same with Jell-O at least in some neighborhoods. No one would have been caught dead taking a lime green Jell-O salad with shredded carrots to an actual dinner party. It was all about the arty pasta salad instead.
Well! Hold onto your hats, people, because guess what? Jell-O is back! Ten Speed Press (in the self-consciously ever-cool city of Berkeley, Calif.) has just published a new cookbook called Hello, Jell-O! by Victoria Belanger, aka the Jell-O Mold Mistress of Brooklyn.
There are a few traditional recipes included, such as the Classic Rainbow Mold (which takes up a significant portion of your day, not to mention YOUR LIFE, to complete). But there are plenty of jazzy new recipes, too: Pomegranate Berry Salad, Lemon Poppy Seed, Key Lime Pie.
Belanger includes holiday-themed recipes as well: Berry Fourth of July, Brains!!! and Pumpkin Pie. And for the "Mad Men" set, there's a chapter titled "Boozy Molds." Come on. Can't you just see Don Draper tucking into a Pear and Lychee Martini salad?
Anyway. The publication of this new cookbook makes me happy, because you know what? I've missed Jell-O. Did you hear that, Jell-O? I've missed you!
So here's what I'm gonna do. Every Tuesday from now until I feel like quitting, I'll make a new Jell-O dish and then post a picture of it Wednesday morning on my Tribune Facebook page, OK?
I'm open to any and all recipes: recipes you send in to me, recipes I find in my mother's recipe box, recipes from church cookbooks, recipes from Belanger's cookbook.
Help me out. And let's have some fun with Jell-O Wednesday.
Ann Cannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/columnistcannon.
Send in the Jell-O recipes
Ann Cannon seeks Jell-O recipes old and new, the best of which she'll make, photograph and critique each Wednesday on her Facebook fan page, facebook.com/columnist cannon. Send your recipes to email@example.com or mail them to Ann's attention at The Salt Lake Tribune, 90 S. 400 West, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84101.