it wasn’t until i lived in other countries that i started to question why we do things. this happened organically, because people are curious about why you do things so they ask, waiting for a logical explanation. but i never really thought about why i did most things, it is just what you do. family tradition. habit.
i come from a long, and expansive, line of bohemians who came to the us in the 1800s and early 1900s. they settled in south dakota, a new state that had a huge amount of land up for grabs (stolen from indigenous tribes, which is a whole other story). there were plenty of other bohemians, scandinavians and norwegians but most importantly, south dakota provided the opportunity to live a safe and prosperous life away from religious prosecution.
settlers came in droves and brought their cooking traditions with them. but the new settlers also started creating new, more americanized recipes. the upper-midwest (south dakota, north dakota and minnesota) is home to a very unique type of food. we are best know for our ‘salad.’ but it’s not the green kind.
an interesting blend of sweet/savory, made in bulk quantities (to share at those large church and family gatherings) and usually includes marshmallows; every family has their own favorites, recipes and adaptations that have been handed down through the generations.
no one is quite sure where these recipes came from (and yes, i did research for this post!), but they do know that dessert salads are specific to the upper-midwest, typically rural scandinavians and especially the lutherans. but no one knows WHY someone created dessert salads, which is really what i wanted to know! why on earth would someone make this and serve to other people? did they create it one day when they didn’t have anything else in the pantry? or did they honestly think it tasted good? i’m not sure…
which brings me to glorified rice.
when i came home before christmas this last year, i was asking what we were going to make. mom said that alexa (my cousin) requested glorified rice. everyone in my family LOVES this, i’m not a fan. but my mom always mixes it up and this year would be no different!
every christmas while i was growing up, i was given the task of cutting up maraschino cherries and mandarin oranges for the glorified rice. cutting cherries is challenging and leaves your fingers stained red for days, no matter how hard you try to scrub them. not the most glorious of preparation activities, but it’s better than eating the finished product (in my opinion).
so what exactly is glorified rice?
cooked and cooled rice with cool-whip (or whipped cream) and pineapple tidbits, mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries all mixed in. you mix it all together, cool it down and then enjoy!
seriously, everyone in my family loves it. really, it is the most bizarre and intriguing idea for a food. my mom actually made 2 batches this year: 1 for christmas and 1 for new years!
i recently found my great-grandmother’s recipe for ‘glorified rice salad.’ it’s pretty spectacular-it includes marshmallows! my mom has adapted the recipe for her own personal tastes, she adds cream cheese and doesn’t put the marshmallows. so the family tradition continues, although slightly adapted for our current lifestyles.
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