I hate it when my husband celebrates his ethnic heritage. Melted chocolate bars mixed with Cool Whip become “truffles”; a jar of cheese whiz and cream cheese becomes a festive cheese ball; bread, butter and sprinkles transforms into an afternoon snack. The doozy, though, is the White Trash Birthday Cake. It involves Cool Whip, Jello and a white cake from a mix. You're smart. You can put it all together in your head.
If he were from Beijing, I'd make him red bean ice cream. If he were from Tibet, I'd make him yak stew. If he were from Scotland, I'd make him haggis. Okay, no I wouldn't, but I'd make him a nice vegetarian version of haggis, which he would love and which would make me feel accomplished and clever. But my husband is from Idaho and he comfort eats from a box, which makes me feel like I ought to have my hair in curlers and my dress should come from Lilian Vernon.
One year I tried to bribe my way out of making this particular cake. I offered any cake in the book (literally). I anticipated a multi-step, ganache-coated mousse concoction that would require a lot of egg beating and delicate sifting of cake flour. Nuthin’ doin’. I think tears actually welled up in the poor guy’s eyes, and since he rarely gets any food he’d recognize from his childhood, I gracefully (Ha!) gave in. Normally, I suck up a small piece and then I remember that I A) don’t like Cool Whip B) don’t like soggy cake C) resent food that does not resemble my childhood in any way. After all, White Trash Birthday Cake is a far cry from my mother’s Heart Attack Grilled Cheese (which involves mayonnaise, American cheese and prodigious amounts of butter).