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Green Bean Casserole


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It's that time of year again.

Every time I turn on the television, eventually that commercial comes on:

"Every holiday, every special occasion, the recipe we all remember is Green Bean Casserole."

This concoction, up there with California Onion Dip in the pantheon of back-of-the-label homemade classics, seems to be a staple of feasts nationwide. I'm guessing that it's one of the main reasons Cream of Mushroom is Campbell's second- or third-biggest seller, after Chicken Noodle and maybe ahead of Tomato, and it's probably the only reason some people buy French's French Fried Onions at all. (To those for whom this is true: They're actually a tasty topping for a lot of other things and aren't too bad eaten right out of the can.)

If I understand this TV ad right, this relatively unoffensive dish is everywhere, and no family feast is complete without it.

And yet when I think back across years of visiting friends and relatives, including numerous holiday dinners I had no hand in preparing, I can recall encountering Green Bean Casserole exactly once. At a family gathering at a relative of my partner's.

By the way, my partner's white.

As are all the people in the Green Bean Casserole commercial.

So I got to thinking: Is this dish some semi-secret Caucasian bonding ritual?

I began asking all my black friends and acquaintances: Have you ever fixed Green Bean Casserole?

I got the same answer from every last one of them: "No."

Okay, then, have you ever been served it?

So far, the answer to that question has been the same as the answer to the first one.

Surely America's made more progress towards becoming an integrated society than the answer to this last question indicates.

In any case, I've concluded that this dish, which these ads tell me is so iconic, is definitely near and dear only to white people, and among those, only to a small subset.

Unless something else is at work: The dish is either so exquisite or so embarrassing that most white people send it into hiding whenever they entertain black guests.

Which is it? Clue me in, please. I know there are white folks reading this.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Yeah. It's pretty much ambrosia to us.

Did someone leave the blinds open? We're not supposed to be examined.

Edit to add: seriously, it's kind of like some of those Jello salads that are so horrid that keep coming back time and time again. It's comfort food for some who are misguided. It just seems to have stuck with the white demographic. I apologize for them. I really do.

Edited by jsolomon (log)

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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It's that time of year again.

Every time I turn on the television, eventually that commercial comes on:

"Every holiday, every special occasion, the recipe we all remember is Green Bean Casserole."

This concoction, up there with California Onion Dip in the pantheon of back-of-the-label homemade classics, seems to be a staple of feasts nationwide. I'm guessing that it's one of the main reasons Cream of Mushroom is Campbell's second- or third-biggest seller, after Chicken Noodle and maybe ahead of Tomato, and it's probably the only reason some people buy French's French Fried Onions at all.  (To those for whom this is true:  They're actually a tasty topping for a lot of other things and aren't too bad eaten right out of the can.)

If I understand this TV ad right, this relatively unoffensive dish is everywhere, and no family feast is complete without it.

And yet when I think back across years of visiting friends and relatives, including numerous holiday dinners I had no hand in preparing, I can recall encountering Green Bean Casserole exactly once.  At a family gathering at a relative of my partner's.

By the way, my partner's white.

As are all the people in the Green Bean Casserole commercial.

So I got to thinking: Is this dish some semi-secret Caucasian bonding ritual?

I began asking all my black friends and acquaintances: Have you ever fixed Green Bean Casserole?

I got the same answer from every last one of them: "No."

Okay, then, have you ever been served it?

So far, the answer to that question has been the same as the answer to the first one.

Surely America's made more progress towards becoming an integrated society than the answer to this last question indicates.

In any case, I've concluded that this dish, which these ads tell me is so iconic, is definitely near and dear only to white people, and among those, only to a small subset.

Unless something else is at work: The dish is either so exquisite or so embarrassing that most white people send it into hiding whenever they entertain black guests.

Which is it? Clue me in, please.  I know there are white folks reading this.

Heheheheheheh

I come from a lily white family, those are just the facts. WASPs are they all, as am I. Not that there is anything wrong with that...

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever have I seen a green bean casserole on the holiday table, heard anyone in my circle of family and friends lament its abscense, or had a request to prepare it.

So no, they are probably not hiding a green bean casserole from you. Although, never having been in the same building with one, I wouldn't know how to behave.

:biggrin:

That is just me. I think you are falling for a smooth marketing campaign...

Edited to add: You might find some collards and corn bread on my table - if you are lucky!

Edited by annecros (log)
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I love my mom's green bean casserole. :cool:

I think the ease and economy of the dish was the main reason it turned up every year at my maternal family's christmas gatherings.

I've never been served it at any other xmas/holiday events though - outside of my family. It's definitely not done by everybody. I wonder if it's more prevalent in the northeast?

I don't think I'd eat anyone else's but my mom's - it's actually a pretty gross recipe, but she has the magic touch. lol To wit:

-frozen green beans

-can of campbell's cream of mushroom soup

-frozen onion rings

combine beans and soup, put in casserole dish. place onion rings on top in a neat pattern. Put in oven.

~Radio

the tall drink of water...
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By the way, my partner's white.

Well then, you're all set! All you need is a bonafide white guy and you too can soon be eating one of the most traditional staples for "White Folks who can't cook"!

Now all you need is some canned green beans, some bacon, little onions, cream of mushroom soup, (and for the daring, pimento-but that's really pushing it) and some canned fried onions (though I reccomend Zapp's Crawtators as a sub).

Sandy, you know, I am from one of those families who would, literally, laugh if this stuff hit the table. Most people have never eaten meals at the holidays as elaborate as the ones that I have eaten for the last 44 years. Big deal food served well. It's nice and I appreciate it every time it happens. Green Bean Casserole is not, at least in my experience, for everybody-then again, as you say, the only people that I know who eat it are kind of, well, lilly white.

OTOH, my wife's family, well, let's just say that Green Bean Casserole is kind of a staple. And really, what's not to like? But there just isn't much to it (though I will say that I have had it on my plate plenty of times at my mother in law's house and I like it ok). Pretty much it's just cooking beans in mushroom soup with onions. So what I'm saying is this-what's the point? Surely you are comfortable enough with what you eat already as a tradition to not really want to step into the world of bad white bread vittles? Don't do it, says I. Resist.

I don't blame you for trying to gain knowledge about this seemingly bizarre cultural phenomenon but this is probably one of those things that you are better off just reading about (hey, we're the same people that were buying Barry Manilow records when Earth, Wind, and Fire were hot. It's a difficult thing to explain) than you are actually participating in. You seem like a man of taste, though I don't think that you are missing much not tasting this particular iconic dish.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Sandy, you are too much! :laugh: I loved your post and it brought back a memory.

'Way back when I didn't know any better, I went to work at the local Bar Association. I'd never seen a green bean casserole before in my life*, but had to prepare it almost weekly for some working lunches that the various lawyers had at our offices.

We used canned (Blue Lake, French Cut), with some cream of mushroom soup, heated on top of the stove, with Durkee Onion Rings. Special occasions called for a few packaged sliced almonds (the kind with the skin still on), for color and texture. That was "Green Bean Casserole Supreme." :laugh::laugh:

OMG, I haven't thought of those days for a long, long time.

*technically, I guess I'm Caucasian.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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To start, I'm really, really white. Mostly Norweigan. My family has never made this dish but it was finally offered when I was dating another white-as-the-driven-snow Norweigan at his family potluck for Christmas. But by then I was sooo paranoid about eating anything with fat, anything processed (soup from a can/canned fried onions) OR meat (that meant no bacon, folks! :blink: Hey I was young psychotic once, too!) that I didn't even taste it. I sure wouldn't mind a taste nowadays but I'm not going to make a batch for my household of two...unless it turns out to be a childhood favorite of my white-as-a-snowman-at-the-North-Pole husbands. :raz:

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

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Pretty white here, too - but no green bean casserole to be found. I've actually never, ever tasted it. Not to this day. My mother was never big on casseroles, I must admit...

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

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The dish is either so exquisite or so embarrassing that most white people send it into hiding whenever they entertain black guests.

:laugh:

It's a generational thing (and possibly regional), too. As their children have grown up and started hosting holdays in their own homes, my midwestern-born and raised parents seem often confused by the menu. "But aren't you making green bean casserole?" "Do you need me to bring a jello salad?" Nonononononono. My Iowan mother in law is visiting, and she likes to cook us dinner, but her repertoire is based largely on dishes made with ground meat and cream of mushroom soup.

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Some of my best friends are white. And I don't think they've ever made it or served it in their homes. At least not to me.

Although I have seen it at a great many church 'covered dish suppers' in the south. So I guess that somewhere there are white folk that consider it a staple.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Pretty darn white, and yes, we always have this. The only difference is at some point we started making it with fresh green beans. MUCH better.

Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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Yeah, Sandy ... somewhere in the great Cosmic Scheme of Things, Culinary Division, it was decreed that green bean casserole would grace the holiday tables of white households, while baked mac-and-cheese would be the purvue of holiday feasts in black households. For a change, I think the black folks actually came out better in this deal. :biggrin:

My mom did that danged green bean casserole every Thanksgiving. She got it either out of her Better Homes and Gardens cookbook or her Betty Crocker cookbook, along with all her other Thanksgiving recipes--after all, what did a first-generation American girl straight out of the Jewish ghetto of New York's Lower East Side know from American Thanksgiving? So I guess when she started to assimilate that holiday into her cooking repertoire, she saw the green bean casserole on a suggested Thanksgiving menu in one of those cookbooks and thought, okay, so that must be traditional too. I'm just glad she didn't also adopt the marshmallows-on-sweet-potatos thang. (shudder)

Nowadays I might consider making the green bean casserole as a retro-nostalgia joke--except of course I'd have to gussy it up to complete the foodie-jokiness of it, y'know? Maybe use haricots vertes, a made-from-scratch white sauce with shiitakes ... but still keep the goddam canned Durkee fried onions on top. Those onion rings were always the best part of the original version as far as I'm concerned ... does anybody even use those things for any other dish at any other time of the year?

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The only "cassarole" in my house was lasagna...

about 10 yrs ago a friend served it to me accompanied by lipton noodles n sauce stuff and some sort of grilled meat

my husbands grandma made it every thanksgiving so my mother did it this year, she used fresh green beans for Me.

tracey

Italian/beige

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

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Okay, I am not only an occasional caucasian but Jewish and kosher as well .. the reason we don't eat the green bean Durkee soupy casserole? It is dairy because of the mushroon soup and can't be served with meat because it won't be kosher.

I have made the casserole once (for a kosher dairy meal) and found it to be salty with no single real flavor standing out .. as for the canned, greasy onion rings by Durkee? :rolleyes:

does anybody even use those things for any other dish at any other time of the year?

No, mizducky, just plain unvarnished (not varnishkes!)"no" ... :hmmm:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I'll weigh in on the side of I'm-white-but-my-family-doesn't-eat-this-stuff. That doesn't mean we're eating excellent food. My family just has other stuff that shows up on holiday tables.

But all of this makes me go "Uh-ohhhh" in the back of my mind. Tell me about tuna casserole. The kind with noodles, cream of something* soup, a drained can of tuna, crumbled crackers on the top, and shredded cheddar on top of the top. Is that a white thing, too? And if so, how white is it? I mean, is it more ubiquitous than the green bean casserole?

*My family's official canned soup for tuna casserole was cream of mushroom. My college roommate's family's official canned soup for tuna casserole was cream of celery. After much argument, we decided to alternate. Unless we were broke, when we used whatever we had or could borrow.

Edited to say: The "company" (i.e. fancy) version of tuna casserole also had canned peas in it.

Edited by jgm (log)
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But all of this makes me go "Uh-ohhhh" in the back of my mind.  Tell me about tuna casserole.  The kind with noodles, cream of something* soup, a drained can of tuna, crumbled crackers on the top, and shredded cheddar on top of the top.  Is that a white thing, too?  And if so, how white is it?  I mean, is it more ubiquitous than the green bean casserole?

Now I don't have the data to say whether it's an *exclusively* white thing. But given that tuna noodle hot dish, to give it its proper Minnesotan name, has been the butt of many jokes on "Prairie Home Companion," including a whole ballad that Keillor sang as a duet with Jean Redpath many moons ago, I'd say that dish does have some pretty sturdy roots in a notably pale-complected community. :biggrin:

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Sandy like you, I didn't grow up with this delicacy, never had it at anyone's home even during holidays, and I've never made it.

Yet................... I have to admit to having a morbid fascination with that Campbell's soup commercial, for years now: the way they lovingly pour the soup onto the casserole (always looks better than the way it looks in reality), those crispy onions on top, even the fake steam rolling off the top, served to a table full of happy, smiling C____________n people. :smile: I had only thought about making it but now................

...............now you come along Sandy with this topic.................... and now I feel myself going over the edge..................... now I actually want to MAKE this for Christmas! Normally, it would be collards, or mixed greens, or old school green beans, and in addition to those, peas and carrots. But thanks to you I'll have to go out and buy frozen green beans, canned fried onions, Campbell's Mushroom Soup and whatever the Hell else goes in this casserole! Damn you, man, damn you! :angry::rolleyes:

What's next brotha': telling everybody Black folks' secret handshake? :biggrin:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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7/8 ths white here(great grandma was from the west indies).

never had this growing up but now i make it from scratch using tyler florence's recipe with fresh mushrooms, beans and pearl onions. my mother-in-law loves it...

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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I am kind of a grayish pink color. I make the green bean casserole. I eat the green bean casserole. I enjoy the green bean casserole.

Pillory me for this if you must.

Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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I'm, um, 2nd generation in the US... grandparents on all sides born elsewhere... Syria and Italy, and I've never seen a green bean casserole. But, I still get to pass, right? :wacko: After, all, I'm the lightest in the family, and everyone says I'm white! Maybe that means that I have to LEARN to make this green bean casserole? Oh, FudgeyGoogle, I hope not! :blink:

edited to add: boy number one is so white he's rosy(I dunno, some kind of German stock, most likely, after 20 plus years you'd think I would know this!), I wonder if he's ever had green bean casserole? I know he's had Spam and Velveeta. And, if he has, am I off the hook by association? :laugh:

Edited by Rebecca263 (log)

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This is really funny and I can't say I ever thought about it.

My mother was an excellent from scratch cook. However, that recipe must have intrigued her when it first came out. She was known to try things from packaged stuff once in a while if she was curious about it. We did use the frozen green beans from the get-go. You can get fresh ones down here at this time of year but they aren't at their best. My mother's rule was that if she didn't get the vegetables out of her or someone else's garden she used frozen.

Well, the darn thing stuck! Now we have to have it every Thanksgiving. Even my kids and my nephew demand it . . . and they are all foodies. I think my sister was the one that started adding some soy sauce and sliced water chestnuts. Oddly enough, the only time the demand surfaces is at Thanksgiving. That says to me that it is a nostalgia thing. Actually, I like it ok.

White and 59. (Some Native American in there but I don't think enough to count. :biggrin: )

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I am about as white as they come though I want to come back in another life as anything but with a sultry voice for jazz. Blonde, blue eyes, skin the color of a boiled lobster if I don't wear five layers, a floppy hat and sunscreen at the beach.

Growing up in the inner city, I played Goldilocks to three African-American bears in the big first-grade play. My mother was horrified; I never understood why she took an immediate dislike to my beloved teacher after the production until later when I began reading Black Like Me, Malcolm X and Sula in a new neighborhood where friends passed honey cake through the schoolyard fence on their way to temple.

But I never, ever ate or heard of a green-bean casserole until my sophomore year of college in New England when a group of friends decided not to fly or go home for Thanksgiving and we all cooked for each other. I had never seen canned sweet potatoes covered with marshmallows either.

Judging from that crowd, it might have been a Highland Park/Longisland thing.

I have never seen it since, except in commercials. Better than the canned "yams" and actually liked the crunchy onion stuff.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Let's see...according to my 3yo, I'm "white", she and my husband are "brown", and my 3mo son is "pink". (Ain't kids the best?)

We had the gbc also. I always dug the Durkee onions. My "brown" husband (he's Tejano) reports having it as well.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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Yes, Caucasian, and yes, we had it.

But ONLY at holidays. Always at Thanksgiving, usually at Christmas, and probably once in a blue moon at Easter - and at no other time. It was always made with frozen French cut green beans - Mom didn't like the taste of canned.

And yes, I make it for holidays when I'm hosting. I like the stuff. Always a tbsp of soy sauce in it - it really boosts what flavors there are.

And I like the leftovers even more.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

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