Columns

2017.12.06 Old: Jell-O with meal worms?

Here’s a little follow-up from a recent column of the past.

By DAVID GREEN

It’s the 100th anniversary of Jell-O, the name brand gelatin product from the Kraft company. There’s not much time to celebrate; Dec. 31 is the big day of this all-important year. 

One way to celebrate is to dump food items into a dish of Jell-O and let it set up. I should have tried that with some of the crunch larvae we dined on last Thursday.

Several people have asked just what I came up with out of the compost pit for Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres. Actually, nothing came from the compost, but we did bring a couple of interesting appetizers.

My wife purchased several packages of “Larvets Original Worm Snax” at the COSI science center gift shop. I think it was the cheddar cheese flavor package that I daintily arranged on a small blue dish, each larva head held in place with a dab of butter.

I don’t remember Colleen eating any, but several disappeared over the course of the day. They really didn’t taste like much of anything. A potato chip, maybe.

Someone in the crowd identified them as meal worm larvae. They’re not a significant source of cholesterol, nor of anything else. Not even a trace if protein. There’s really not much there but a shell. You have to eat a meal worm live to get anything out of it.

I also brought a dish of Road Kill Squirrel Burgoo—squirrel brain in a very thick tomato sauce. Sure I reheated it. I wasn’t about to hunt down road kill. The brains were walnut halves. There were enough leftovers to serve our next holiday guests. And the next group after that.

As I passed a dish of fruit laden Jell-O around the Thanksgiving table, I turned to a guest from Massachusetts and asked if this sort of food item was eaten back in Sandwich, Mass. I knew what the answer would be.

No, said Jillian, we use fruit and vegetable laden Jell-O to keep vermin out of the garage and garden. She didn’t say all of that, but chunky Jell-O isn’t part of the diet out east. My wife long ago talked about this as a Midwest oddity.

The Jell-O mix brings to mind an article I read recently in my favorite humor magazine, The Onion. They printed an article called “Midwest discovered between East, West coasts.”

It told the tale of a U.S. Geological Survey expeditionary force searching for the Midwest Passage, that mythical overland route passing through the uncharted area between Ithaca, N.Y., and Bakersfield, Calif.

They blazed trails through vast lands full of corn and wheat. They studied the local dialect and learned that names such as Michigan and Wisconsin translate into “summer camp.”

Here’s a quote from Franklin Eldred, leader of the force: “The Midwestern Aborigines are ruddy, generally heavy-set folk, clad in plain, non-designer costumery,” Eldred said. “They tend to live in simple, one-story dwellings whose interiors are decorated with Hummels and ‘Bless this House’ needlepoint wall-hangings. And though course and unattractive, these simple people were rather friendly, offering us quaint native fare as ‘hotdish’ and ‘casserole.’”

An anthropologist from Los Angeles talked about the backwardness of the area. The agricentric lifestyle results in a mode of dress largely restricted to sweatpants and sweatshirts. The women’s clothing is adorned with hearts and teddy bears. The men’s with college football insignia.

A marketing expert suggested conducting trade with Midwesterners, offering electronic devices in exchange for meats and agriculture. A Manhattan socialite wasn’t as optimistic. She saw no possibility for a genuine exchange of ideas, unless it was a discussion of television shows or “the big game.”

Let’s sit down to burgoo and Jell-O and talk it over.