Disgusting foods your parents ate

Inspired by the American food thread, and talking to my sister yesterday…

What foods did your parents eat (and make you eat) when you were little, which you either didn’t like, or that sound absolutely disgusting but were actually pretty good?

I’ve posted before about the jello salad my mom made. Lemon and lime Jell-O, diced green and red apples, walnuts, cottage cheese, and Miracle Whip. If Pepto Bismol were green, it would be that colour. It looked like someone got sick in a glass baking dish. Actually, it wasn’t bad. I didn’t like it as a child, but mom always made it at Thanksgiving and as an adult I thought it best that I eat a token amount. I ended up liking it (in moderation). My mom got the recipe from an aunt, who got it out of a women’s magazine back in the '50s. My aunt called it ‘crap salad’. My mom was more delicate and called it ‘green Jell-O salad’.

Dad liked ‘peas and cheese salad’. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Peas and cheese. With Miracle Whip. Uh… Yeah.

Dad also made Spam salad. It’s exactly like ham salad, only made with Spam. And Miracle Whip. You know… I like that one.

I mentioned to my sister I was thinking about picking up some asparagus. She said, ‘I only like asparagus out of a can. With some Miracle Whip.’ Yep, just like we got when we were kids.

I’m so glad I know how to cook. But what is it with '50s and '60s food? Why did our parents and grandparents like this stuff? Was it convenience? Was it ‘modern’? Why make something out of a box when it’s so easy to make it fresh? (Not that I never make things out of a box, but fresh is better.)

It’s not really an unusual dish but, liver and onions :eek: . My mom tried to make me eat it once that I remember. One bit and I vomited. Even the smell makes me want to throw up.

Another vote for liver & onions.

Split Pea Soup.

My father used to love a limburger-like cheese called Liederkranz. IMHO, this is not a cheese for eating. This is a cheese for training forensic pathologists. The stench of the Liederkranz in the refrigerator was so overpowering that it would penetrate all the other foods unless they were in tightly-sealed glass containers.

After I grew up and went to work, I was reminded of the Liederkranz Horror when a woman with whom I worked started bring some of the vile stuff into the lunchroom and keeping it in the communal fridge. Eccccch. If I want to smell rancid muskrats’ toe jam while I eat, I’ll go to the zoo.

My mother is a fan of toast with peanut butter, ketchup, and bacon. You lightly toast the bread in a toaster, then add the peanut butter, ketchup, and cooked bacon and pop in the oven for a few more minutes to help make the peanut butter gooey. I don’t like bacon, but I can’t imagine enjoying this so-called treat even if I did.

I luffs me some split pea soup.

Well, my mom used to enjoy at her childhood home (but never made in our house, thank Og) was calves’ brains on toast. Just the thought… :X However, I did get to ‘enjoy’ tinned peas (vile until I finally figured out that mint & honey improves them), steak & kidney pie (yeughhh), and I tried pea soup. Once.

I actually love liver and onions, but I agree that most recipes from '50s and '60s cookbooks look and sound disgusting. For proof, here’s the obligatory link to the Gallery of Regrettable Food: LILEKS (James) :: Institute :: The Gallery of Regrettable Food

My father used to eat, among other things:

potato chips dipped in mayonnaise
saltine crackers crumbled up in a bowl of milk
donuts dipped in gravy

The folks came from rural Pennsylvania and they never tired of eating scrapple. As far as I can tell, it’s a weird loaf-like hodgepodge of ingredients that is fried in a pan and eaten for breakfast, usually.


On my mother’s side of the family, chicken feet were quite the delicacy. I never could bring myself to eat one.

(Who knows what them chickens have been stepping in?)

Hog’s-head cheese.

Which I understand is exactly what it sounds like. Except maybe with even less desirable parts mixed in as well.

Lambs’ brains. Yuck.

Ha! We went out for lunch yesterday and I ordered liver and onions. I hated it when I was growing up because mom overcooked it, and it was sliced too thick. Needs to be sliced thin – good stuff!

I like split pea soup, and peas and cheese salad too – I add chopped hard-cooked eggs, green pepper, and onions.

Hmmm. I guess I’m the “your parents” rep here.

Tripping down memory lane here.

My grandparents – they ate fish out of a box. I think it was salted cod. It came in a little wooden box, in liquid, and it smelled gross. They ate salt pork instead of bacon, and there was always a piece of it congealing in a dish (a “sauce” dish) on their table (which was covered with a vinyl tablecloth).

Rollmops (pickled herring). Wurstsalad (green beans with pimento and vinegar with chopped up ham). Camembert. And German potato salad, made hot with vinegar.

My mom’s favorite snack was, a big glass of buttermilk, with pieces of cornbread soaking in it. She would eat it with a spoon.

When the family had a cookout, my dad would char his burger to a crisp then soak it with worchestershire sauce, and eat it with a knife and fork.

Sis? Is that you?

Honestly, I was one of those “weird” kids who wanted to try most everything Dad had out on the table…hence, standing by the table like a baby bird, begging for smoked oysters (yes, at the age of 5), moving on to steak and kidney pie (where on earth my father found that here in upstate NY, I don’t know, but loved it!), any kind of cheese, pepperoni and salami were absolute favorites. Oh, and clams on vacation??? I certainly wasn’t one of the kids that you don’t need to even count when making dinner plans!

I do remember, however, that although the smell of preparation was good for liver, onions, and bacon (mainly because what could smell better than onions cooked in bacon drippings?!?!? ), the few tastes I attempted did gross me out, I think due to a combination of the texture of the liver, and the reactions of my 3 older siblings!!! I’m fine w/ it now, though, as long as it’s prepared and cooked properly.

I grew up being fed liver and kidneys, and I was given sliced cow’s tongue in my sandwiches. I thought it was a mystery meat called ‘tung’. So normal was it as a foodstuff that my dad even had a ‘joke’ about someone not eating tongue because they wouldn’t eat something that had been in an animal’s mouth. When I finally made the connection between the joke and the meat, I refused to eat it.

But like many schoolkids of the '40s in England, my dad was regularly served ‘dripping’ on bread. Dripping is the congealed fat that collects underneath a roll of roast beef. I suppose, given the rationing of the time, it was a pretty good calorie source.

ETA: for the second time today, it’s Worcestershire sauce, not ‘chester’. Pron. ‘woostershur’.

Yet another vote for liver and onions. My dad LOVES that shit. Ugh.