Hey, Russia! Are you ready for some Jell-O salad? Of course not.
I was chatting with one of my Russian friends the other day — because, like Victoria Nuland, some of my best friends are Russian. During our conversation he referred me to this Buzzfeed video of Americans trying bizarre Russian foods. I, in turn, introduced him to the concept of a Jell-O salad. I feel we achieved some important progress in diplomatic relations.
I was pretty impressed with Buzzfeed presenting this in a somewhat neutral format, since it seems their mission in life is to hate Russia all day, every day. In the same spirit of mutual cultural understanding, I have compiled a list of American foods at which I feel Russians might look askance.
Russia: I present to you, as a peace offering, bizarre American foods...
Kraft Singles and Velveeta
I don’t know what kind of cheese Putler allows in your gulag, but up until I was about 20, I thought cheese was orange and came in two forms: pre-sliced and individually wrapped in plastic or in a large brick shape that had the consistency of something between a sponge cake and oobleck. See Figs. A-B
I can’t believe it’s not food!
I’m not sure what either of these things is actually made of, but I’m pretty certain it is not in fact cheese in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, the label says it is “cheese product,” indicating its non-cheese status to the consumer.
Note: The same “cheese product” composition has been placed in an aerosol can and marketed to the public as “Cheez-Whiz.”
Chances are if someone was a child at some point in the 1990s in America, his or her parents lovingly purchased Lunchables. Lunchables came in a little box instead of a brown paper bag and we assembled them ourselves, so we felt cool bringing them to school because we had no idea that they were actually made of Soylent Green.
Now, the main problem with Lunchables was a question of ratios. You got a tiny little package of mustard that you couldn’t open, a few stale Ritz crackers, a slightly larger ration of cheese product slices, and an enormous stack of meat of questionable origin. Hungry children were left without enough provisions to actually make neat little cracker-cheese-meat piles. Pair that with an impossible to open Capri Sun, and it was all very Dickensian.
Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Casserole
People, this is not food.
I am from the Midwest, and most recipes that hail from that region start with a quart of mayonnaise. However, I must say my people really outdid themselves when they invented the sweet potato/yam and marshmallow casserole. This unholy mess usually makes an appearance at picnics and holiday gatherings. It is to be avoided at all costs. Elderly women will encourage you to eat this. They will tell you it’s delicious. Do not trust them. They lie.
Tuna and Potato Chip Casserole
If you’re from the Midwest, you will know that this is what you bring to someone’s house when someone in their family passes away. Americans actually consider this to be a gesture of goodwill and neighborliness. Should you ever have the misfortune to experience the death of a loved one and also be gifted with one of these, politely accept and feed it to your least-liked but still alive relative. The casserole in question is a mixture of a can of some type of creamed soup, potato chips, cheese product, and probably sour cream. In addition to a funerary offering, it can also be used to caulk pipes and repair leaky tires.
Note: Americans also use potato chips and cereal as a coating for chicken or pork. Bring some to your next NATO potluck!
Shake N Bake
If you grew up in a household where your parents both worked and didn’t have time to make potato-chip or cereal-encrusted chicken, they could always rely on Shake N Bake. Shake N Bake was basically salt added to bread crumbs, to which was added more salt. Busy parents could use this to coat any pound of theretofore frozen processed protein products. Also it came in BBQ flavor. ‘Muricka!
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Do not be fooled by the name. As the Rocky Mountains are landlocked and do not sustain any bodies of water that could sustain shellfish, these are not oysters.
Gentle readers, they are bull testicles. Given Americans’ penchant for deep-frying anything they can get their hands on, they are generally served breaded and dipped.
I am not casting aspersions on Rocky Mountain Oysters, since I’ve never tried them. I’m just saying they’re fried bull testicles.
This is a Jell-O salad.
It is a combination of a package of Jell-O, fruit, colored marshmallows, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and, in more severe cases, meat and vegetables. It should only be used as a Bat signal to summon all the 1950s housewives in Gotham City. If not needed for that purpose, take it far away from your house, bury it, and sprinkle the ground with holy water.
Dear Russians: I hope this has been a helpful field guide through the weird and wonderful world of bizarre American foods. Contact Buzzfeed to share your own videos and don’t forget to mention that you live in a Stalinist dictatorship devoid of Velveeta! The horror!
Lisa Marie White is an American who actually made Jell-O salad once. Like many Millenials, her interests include: disliking Baby Boomers, wasting time on social media, and trying out and then abandoning fitness and diet trends. To tell her she is a Kremlin troll, Tweet at her: @lisa_white
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