Failed Research #1: Pasta Salad

I am having a moment where I am legitimately angry with the idea of pasta salad. Bear with me, here; this is going somewhere.

I’ve been generally passively apathetic about pasta salad in the past. But I was talking to a friend about it today and commented that pasta salad is fine if it doesn’t have tomatoes or onions in it (the former ends up with a consistency I can’t handle and the latter I just don’t like). And then it snowballed. Pasta salad is fine if it doesn’t have tomatoes or onions in it. Or anything else that loses its texture. Or if it has a sweet dressing. Or if it’s too dry. Or if it’s too wet. And then it was just this realization that pasta salad is just sucky cold pasta. The noodles are never cooked right, there are like a million ways to prepare it and somehow none of those is especially good, there’s always something in it that is texturally jarring, it’s always too something, and it’s never anything more exciting than “bland”. So now I’m feeling aggrieved by the years of picnic pasta salads and demanding answers as to who (the Midwesterners, I am absolutely certain) is responsible! My Google search went, “who is responsible for pasta salad” like I have been personally attacked (which, incidentally, made Google think that I’m trying to organize a neighbourhood BBQ and have lost track of the fact that Jan is responsible for the pasta salad and/or need a dozen recipes for pasta salad with tomatoes).

Here’s the kicker: I can’t seem to find a good answer. The best information I could find was that pasta salads have been appearing in American cookbooks since at least the mid-1910s, but didn’t gain popularity until the 1980s. A 1916 pasta salad uses a vinegar base and is “folded into whipped cream“, which sounds…hideous. Also, there’s apparently a designation between macaroni salad (mayo based) and pasta salad (vinegar based), which…WHAT? WHY?!?

Whatever we’re calling it, there are no academic sources to be found on this pasta dish that definitely came from somewhere in the Midwest, which makes me as much of an expert on this as anyone. I’m just going to say it came out of the Midwest — because, be honest, where else would it have come out of?* — and be done with it.

*Are you familiar with Cincinnati chili?

I know I’m behind. I’ve been crazy busy and have about a half dozen half-written posts. I’ll get back to them when I get my life back next month.


Lesson #170: Fail No. 2

I’ve been packing today. I move back to North America tomorrow. With a five day stop in Iceland first. Because of this, I learned absolutely nothing except that Club Manager Housemate went through a crazy two-year complete man whore phase. I hardly think that counts as having learned something.

Oh, and Club Manager Housemate, Urban Planner Housemate and I all have wildly differing opinions on what constitutes art.

Lesson #77: Failure

I went looking for some specific information today and failed. I tend to do this thing where I put on some music and then tune it out while I focus on other things — in this case an article I’m writing — only to tune back in and find myself singing along. This happens on songs I know really well, but I have no idea if I’ve been singing along the whole time or if my starting to sing along is what has brought the music back into focus. It’s entirely possible that I started singing along and because I know the song so well, my consciousness doesn’t need to be aware of it for it to happen, so it just went completely unnoticed by my consciousness. There must be some science to this…the training of the mind to associate specific words with specific music without conscious thought, but I can’t find anything about it. Lame.

Also, today is St. David’s Day. He’s the patron saint of Wales. And the only patron saint of the British Isles who is actually from the place for which he is the patron saint.