Green Bean Casserole
(Trust that this is not a recipe you want)
What I will not do during this tale is blather on for sixteen paragraphs about how I came up with a recipe after dancing naked under the stars and having a bat shit on me (that has happened. Not naked, mind you, but the bat part has), which inspired me to blend a concoction that some will dub “better than sex” and make you wonder where they’re getting laid.
Nope. It’s not that good. In fact, it’s fairly awful.
Christmas of 1981 was a tough one for my family. 8 days before, my father had died, suddenly, of a heart attack. Needless to say, nobody was feeling particularly joyous. My mom, however, was a beast. She plowed through and made sure her eleven and sixteen-year-old daughters had Christmas. Tree, gifts, and all.
How she managed that, I’ll never know, but kudos upon kudos to her.
For dinner, we kept it low key. A few days before, my mom invited my Uncle Bill over to eat with us. He asked if it was okay to bring his “lady friend,” Marian, with him.
“sure,” my mom said.
“Do you want us to bring anything?” Uncle Bill asked.
The question seemed harmless enough. Uncle Bill had been a life-long bachelor up until that point, so the extent of him “bringing something” was usually tantamount to candy bars for the kids.
“If you want,” my mom said.
“Marian makes a great green bean casserole,” Uncle Bill said. “I’ll have her make that.”
I had spent a good portion of the days leading up to Christmas wondering exactly what “green bean casserole” was. We never ate things like that, so, prior to Uncle Bill mentioning it to my mom, I had never heard of such a thing. I didn’t even have enough information to imagine what it might be like, but the picture in my head was nowhere near what arrived at my house on Christmas 1981.
Some kids anxiously await Santa. That year? I anxiously awaited green bean casserole.
Finally, Christmas day arrived and, before we knew it, dinnertime was upon us. Uncle Bill and his “lady friend” had arrived about 15 minutes earlier, and she was carrying a white oval-shaped Corning Ware casserole dish with a glass lid on it. Still quite without a clue, I looked at it warily and wondered.
My mom ended up setting dinner out buffet-style. I’d love to say I waited patiently and let my mom, sister, uncle, and the lady who would become Aunt Marian go first, but I raced into the kitchen and made sure I was first in line. I had to know.
I loaded up on ham and potato salad (I should point out that my mom makes the best potato salad in the visible universe). Usually, that was all I’d want to eat, but I made a special trip to the other side of the table to see what was under the lid of that Corning Ware casserole dish.
I lifted off the lid, dipped the serving spoon into the dish, and came up with some soggy, dripping mess that, to me, didn’t smell quite right. How I had any clue what it “should” smell like is beyond me, but that smell was not congruent with the images that had played out in my head all week. I put the spoon back down and put the lid back on the dish.
“take some of that,” my mom whispered in my ear. She had been standing behind me and watched my unceremonious rejection of … whatever that was.
“I don’t want any,” I whispered back.
“be nice. Take some of that. Now.”
There I was. On the hook.
I probably served myself the smallest serving that has ever been served to anyone ever from anywhere, but I obeyed.
All it really tasted like was a bean (I still had yet to develop any kind of fondness for beans) with some kind of flavor on it I couldn’t quite figure out. I looked over at my mom and watched her take a bite as well.
“How is it?” Uncle Bill asked.
“Oh, it’s good,” my mom said. I don’t know what the hell she was eating, but I know my answer would have been very different.
“Good… good. Marian was worried. When she started making it, she realized she had run out of mushroom soup. I told her to just use what she had.” Uncle Bill said.
“Oh? What did you end up using?” my mom asked Marian.
“Chicken noodle.” The little old woman replied.
From then on, any time either Uncle Bill or Aunt Marian asked if they could bring anything to family gatherings, they were told to bring things like paper plates, napkins, pop… things you really couldn’t fuck up.
As for me? It would be another 17 years before I tasted a proper green bean casserole. Still not a fan.