When I showed Willis this photo of a white fruitcake he sneered in disdain.
“See how they’re pushing that post-menopausal philosophy so innocently,” he said, dangling a beer in his left hand and a cigarette in the right, “even going so far as to bleach such a dark, nutty intensely sensual confection.”
“Willis, It’s a just fruitcake, for Pete’s sake.”
“Oh, yes,” he said with a wink. “It’s also symbolically homophobic, exclusive of anything of a sexual nature. Short of an old white woman, it’s the very physical expression of spinsterhood.”
No matter which gutter of the global warming argument you trickle down, barring an asteroid impact—I think we have a 7-year window for those—we’re not likely to see anything drastic in the next century, so don’t let the likelihood that your great-grandchildren can’t grow roses keep you from telling you did. Keep a garden notebook, if only by writing on a funeral home/insurance company/alumni organization wall calendar when you plant a bulb, move a shrub or sow your greens, the date of a late frost and of course the first ripe tomato. Do not neglect to include such enriching details as when Heather drove her three-wheeler all over Sally Jane’s daylily bed as well as accounts or video of the mayhem and its consequences. Start today.
Some people take themselves far too seriously. If you look around the internet for postings of this dish—I assure you there are many—you’ll find reactions bespeaking of ponderous gravitas: “disgusting” they exclaim; “incomprehensible” they bemoan.
Others possessing a lighter heart and more expansive philosophy—among whom naturally I number myself—recognize this recipe for what it is, a work of sheer, unadulterated genius. Many err in crediting this dish to Ernest Mickler, specifically citing his enduring epic White Trash Cooking as the source. Not so; Ernie (as well as his correspondents) was a more discerning sort. No, this concoction is the fabrication of some double-wide Warhol who set his hat to come up with an iconic work of art for those of us who think Martha Stewart should still be wearing that ankle bracelet.
Dissolve two envelopes unflavored gelatin in a quarter cup of water. When gelatin has bloomed, add a half can condensed tomato soup, heat and add two cans Spaghetti-Os. Stir until well-blended, cool, pour into a ring mold and chill until firm. Vienna sausages (admittedly Freudian) are sine qua non for the presentation, and those of a particularly refined bent top them with a curl of Cheese Whiz.
“Yancy, you’re an idiot. This is very simple. If you grind dry roasted peanuts with grease and salt, you get peanut butter; if you puree boiled peanuts with oil, you get redneck hummus. Imagine me, a shit-kicker from Opelousas, having to teach Mississippi’s go-to bubba on white trash food the difference.”
“Billy Dale, I have never as long as I’ve drawn breath ever claimed to be an authority in Southern foodways of any stripe, I’m just trying to find out as much as I can by cautious questioning.”
“You’re a pompous asshole, too,” Dale said. “My wife said you remind her of an alcoholic Sunday school teacher she had in Iuka.”
“B.D., let me off the hook, okay? My sins and errors have never been a good party topic for me.”
“Fine,” Dale said. “Go turn the chicken and get me another beer.”