Over dinner with my husband and one of his coworkers, we came to a discussion of the casserole. He told us that two of his other coworkers near our age -- we are millenials -- had no idea what a casserole is. What the hell is happening over here on the East Coast? Does anyone make green bean casserole for Thanksgiving out here? Has this former star of the American Kitchen died? God, I hope so.
When I talk about a casserole, I talk about one of those things mixed together and put in what is referred to as a casserole dish using a canned soup as one of the binding agents. We aren’t talking about a baked mac and cheese or a shepherd's pie. It’s the questionable dish your weird aunt brings to dinner.
I have plenty of memories of the casserole, mostly of the green bean casserole. It was my mortal enemy at Thanksgiving, covered in cream of mushroom soup and prepackaged French’s onion bits. I wanted and still want nothing to do with it. I have gone through adulthood thinking that this experience was synonymous with the millennial childhood, but apparently not! I, for one, am glad for it. It means the age of the casserole is gone, but why?
The last time I had a casserole was my mother-in-law’s recipe, one that she made on rare occasions for my husband. It’s a chicken alfredo type baked casserole, the whole reason that my husband so adamantly defends the honor of the casserole. He was shocked that his coworkers had no idea what one was, and he seemed more surprised when I told him I was glad the casserole is gone. For the record, I wouldn’t call my mama-in-law’s dish a casserole. It’s more akin to a baked mac and cheese.
I blame the simultaneous growth of food media and the changing landscape of dinner time. We are all more aware of what we put into our body and how we do it. When was the last time you saw someone on Food Network walk you through a casserole recipe? For that matter, when was the last time you sat down for a family meal that wasn’t a holiday gathering?
It’s no longer popular or fashionable to show up with a casserole for a potluck. I guarantee you, I would walk right past it if someone showed up with one for a work potluck. I’ll much sooner eat something you bring to me in a crockpot because I can trust that workhorse. I wouldn’t come to a potluck with a casserole, that’s for sure. I’m that weirdo who will show up with an obnoxious baked good: cookie, cake, or otherwise.
What I want to know is if this is another regional thing. Do you see casseroles still where you live? Are these East Coast kids luckier than they think they are? (They are, we already know the answer to that question)
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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