Sunday, August 16, 2009

Foods of Durham Past: Pears with Miracle Whip and Cheddar Cheese


I’ve read how parents are supposed to introduce new foods to their children when they’re young and how it usually takes 6 or 7 attempts before the kid will actually try it.

I remember the very moment I tried tomatoes and lettuce on my tacos. When I helped Mom set the table I put out tomatoes and lettuce assuming it was for grown ups because the kids just had ground beef and cheese on their tacos (of course I was following my older brother's lead, Carter, who didn't willingly eat a fruit or vegetable until after high school). But one day, I tried the tomatoes and lettuce and really liked it.

This side dish wasn't any different. Except for when I did try it, I didn't like it. Every time these showed up at the table I thought, “Is this what grown-ups eat?"

Even though it didn’t taste good I felt very proud and grown up. Little did I know, just because something looks weird and doesn’t make sense doesn’t necessarily mean it's for grown ups. Some things are just weird.

I remember helping Mom by dalloping Miracle Whip on those pear halves (that's right folks, it's not cottage cheese) and sprinkling grated cheddar over the top. I took pride in how well I made them look, but the pear on my plate remained un-Miracle Whipped and un-cheddared.

I understand the cheese. Fruit and cheese traditionally go together, but this dish, whatever it derives from, is definitely the poor man's version. We’re talking canned pears and mild cheddar cheese – not exactly something out of Gourmet Magazine is it? And, much like with English muffin pizzas, the Miracle Whip/Mayo makes an arbitrary appearance at the dinner table once again.

Would I eat them again? I couldn’t get myself to eat the one I photographed.
Would I make them again? No.
Would I feed them to friends? No, and I don’t think Mom would either.

19 comments:

Ilene said...

Nasty.

Your mom should submit her recipes to the Miracle Whip company. She could win a fortune.

For her ingenuity, at least.

Annie said...

I know we had some variation of this as a kid, but I know it wasn't Miracle Whip. I just don't know what else was between the pear and the cheese.

carter said...

Do pears need help? They're fine just as they are. They're like candy. I don't get it.

Thomas said...

LA LA, I will help you understand. You agree that cheese and fruit go together. Miracle Whip/mayonnaise? Think of Waldorf salad--you know, apples, nuts, celery, etc., and ... yes...mayonnaise or Miracle Whip. There you have a well-established precedent for mixing the two.

Sharp's Flat said...

oh my gosh. I loved this treat!!!! Where Grandma came up with it we'll never know, but it is one of the Christensen bizarr-o family recipes that absolutely cannot get lost or forgotten. Eat them or not, they were a part of a past that still provides laughs year later. Thanks for reminding us Wa-Wa.

Lisa Marie Trent said...

Once, while in Hawaii, it was Deb's turn to make dinner, and she wanted to have appropriate sides to compliment her entree'. So she thought she'd do the "pear" thing, bit instead of the STANDARD cottage cheese, she dolloped a big old spoonful of cream cheese in there. We all asked "isn't is supposed to be cottage cheese?" and Deb, looking a little confused, stuck to her guns and said "No! Haven't you ever had it with cream cheese?" And the rest of us left our plates with the solid chunk of cream cheese on our plate while Deb tongue-smacked hers down...

Gross. I agree with Carter, leave pears alone.

Tara said...

I totally had this growing up too! And like you, I didn't like it, but I felt like I had no choice but to eat it because it was on my plate and, well, I was taught that unless everything is gone from your plate, you don't get dessert. And that just wasn't ok with me. After eating something that tasted that bad, I deserved a cookie.

Kathy Christensen said...

I have been part of the Christensen family for 21 years and 8 months and I still don't understand some of their dishes.

My mom worked full-time and then went to school after that. Dinner was usually a "find it yourself" kind of event and usually consisted of Tuna helper, Spaghettios or frozen burritos.

The Christensen palate was a little too exotic for my taste. Mushrooms, curry, lychees, stuffed bell peppers, consume', gravy with giblets, salads with more than just lettuce, Edith's mustard pickles...and much more.

Sometimes I was almost in tears. I eventually learned to actually crave some of those dishes. Some I still fear and warn my children to stay away. Often I found solace in Carter's pickiness. Sure, he was a child and I was supposedly an adult (at 19). It was good to have an ally. Thanks Carter!

Jaxon, Madtown USA said...

Just like Mom used to make! Though she served ours on a decorative leaf of iceberg lettuce! Fancy! Waldorf Salad argument aside (the most convincing one I've heard), who in their right mind would serve this to anyone, much less their kids? I remember scooping out the Miracle Whip/Velveeta as best I could and just eating the pear. The lettuce? With pear juice and Miracle Whip on it? No way! *laughs!* Glad someone else had this *unusual* delicacy, too...

Steph said...

I too remember this as a kid in the 70's - it was Miracle Whip and shredded Velveeta on the pears. Loved it...however, it seems utterly disgusting now and I would never ever feed this to my kids.

FWIW - everytime I make mac 'n cheese or queso dip w/Velveeta I think of these. Would love to know the origins of this recipe.

Tracey said...

This was a common side dish or "dessert" adorning out dinner table growing up. I was just trying to figure out what to have for lunch & saw the can of pears in my cupboard & instantly remembered this treat. So, I dolloped my mayo (unfortunately the Miracle Whip was gone) & sprinkled my cheese on my pear & Waa laa...& just finshed my scrumptious "back when I was a kid" lunch. I'm pretty sure my mom added something to the miracle whip & I'm pretty sure it was a bit of sugar. But unfortunately, she's not with us anymore to have called to ask her. This was just one of the many of the "old time traditions" we had in our family. How about lime jello salad with cottage cheese, pineapple & whipped cream (it was all mixed together for a fluffy treat). Yummmmmmm!

Anonymous said...

We still eat this at our house! Its a southern delicacy. Its a side dish to our "Sunday Roast". It os always served on a bed of lettuce and we even top each one with a marachino cherry! Delicious!

Dgh said...

Wow...I can't believe other people knew about this dish!! I loved it! LOL BUT we always served it with the Miracle Whip; Crushed Cashews and the Cheddar Cheese...on a leaf of lettuce. Believe it or not I was thinking of serving this at a dinner I'm doing for a few friends next week. Maybe I'll reconsider seeing all these posts. haha

Chappy8399 said...

I am wondering if this is a regional location thing. Possibly a SOUTHERN thing? My family (Mississippi and Georgia) also had these and I thought it was strange as a kid but ya know, I like it as a grown up!

Audrey Mayo said...

I always looked forward to pears with miracle whip and cheese for dessert as a kid. I agree its a poor mans version of something. Kinda like potato patties. Loved eating those from days old mashed potatoes.

Anonymous said...

At the post 2 above me. Probably is a southeastern thing, I'm from Alabama and had the pears/miracle whip/cheese a few times. I remember always eating it too, it's not that bad. I was born in 1985 so I'm sure I had it in the 90's, grandmother fixed it along with supper sometimes.

Anonymous said...

My mother made her version of this pear salad for every holiday dinner: one canned pear half placed on a generous leaf of lettuce, topped with shredded Velveeta cheese, then drizzled with a sauce made by mixing Miracle Whip and the some of the sweet juice from the pears. Wildly popular in our family!

kevindotcar said...

Omg. My mom made this every night of my life. Even when I came home from college. Even when I came to. Visit with my wife. I warned her about it but it was still terrifying.

She served gets on s bed of iceberg lettuce. The horror...

Unknown said...

I found this thread because I was telling someone about this dish today. I love it actually. It's cold and tangy and smooth. It reminds me of my momma. And we are from Oklahoma.