I made Minnesota salad for an office potluck. (See December 4, 2003 entry). Why is it called “Minnesota salad?” I gave it that name because I got the recipe from my mom, who got it from my grandmother who’s lived in Minnesota for 50 years (so she’s from there now.) And no self-respecting Californian would consider a dish with marshmallows a ‘salad.’ For a Californian to paraphrase a Minnesotan: “It’s different.”
I was actually being selfish, since we didn’t have it at Thanksgiving with Joe’s family, I wanted my annual fix of it, and decided to make it for the potluck. If people didn’t like it, well, there would be more leftover for me. (Joe doesn’t care for it.) Alas, people liked it. Some even asked for the recipe.
It contains the aforementioned marshmallows, walnuts, cranberries, canned pineapple, sugar and whipped cream (Cool Whip, to be authentic!) I should probably add to the list of ingredients: rice krispie cereal (optional.) Because the recipe calls for two cups marshmallows, you might as well get the cereal while you’re at the store, so you can make rice krispie treats with the remaining marshmallows afterwards.
I’ve mentioned that I find the question “What do you do for a living?” cheesey, in attempts at conversation. But I have high standards! Tons of people I meet cheerfully and politely me ask me that.
“I’m a transportation planner.”
My job, as it turns out, is a great conversational ice-breaker. Perhaps not as impressive as “venture capitalist” or “professional athelete.” But everyone, just everyone has an opinion on traffic congestion to share, an anecdote on transit to relate, a “how come” question they’d like me to answer. (I wonder if Mr. Roadshow ever gets the same exasperated feeling as doctors and lawyers do when people are incessantly hitting them up for free advice?). Everyone has personal experiences of some sort with driving or transit, few have thrown money at a startup or balls at the Madison Square Garden backboard.
For me, it saves me the effort of having to think of something to talk about (unless I’m not in the mood to talk about transportation). And when people gush to me on the topic, it also provides me with a reality check (how surprising!) of how real people (not professionals and not foamers) feel about transportation issues, or how little they know about its bureaucratic machinations.