I’ve lately rediscovered the Treasury of Tennessee Treats, a cookbook put out by grandmother’s church, Keith Memorial United Methodist in Athens, TN. It was first issued in 1957, and my copy is the revised version from 1962. It is so battered that the index, long detached from the binding, is stuffed into random pages throughout. The two pages of pecan pie recipes look like a Jackson Pollock painting.
The book is a testament to small-town life of the late 1950s and early 1960s, when time-honored but time-consuming ways of cooking were slowly giving way to modern convenience foods. There are many gems here–black bottom pie, dozens of lovely cakes, wild goose with apple and sweet potato stuffing, quail pie, chili, stew. But you can also see how cooks like my grandmother were being seduced by the siren song of convenience foods, luring them down some dark paths lined with canned asparagus and cream of mushroom soup.
The recipe below represents the worst excesses of the era. It’s hard to imagine a combination more hideous than marshmallows, jarred pimento cheese, and Maraschino cherries. But the cooks of Athens, TN, must have been fascinated by the exotic wonder of this salad–which contains real whipped cream only, I am sure, because Cool Whip was not invented until 1966.
I have serious doubts that anyone from Los Angeles ever made this. My guess is that it was some Southern cook’s way of getting back at a snooty California relative.
Los Angeles Salad
1 1/2 lb. marshmallows
Small can crushed pineapple
10 Maraschino cherries
1 4-oz. glass pimiento cheese
1 cup whipping cream
Mix cheese and whole can of pineapple. Add cherries and juice, and marshmallows, cut in small pieces. Whip cream. Add to mixture. Place in ice tray four or five hours. Serve with mayonnaise.