Saturday, January 29, 2011

Home Cooking: Watergate Undercover

Isn’t it interesting home some recipes get their names? Earlier in the month I gave the now renamed recipe for The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford, and today I’m talking about yet another recipe with perhaps a more suspicious name, Watergate Salad.

Of course, we know that restaurants often name signature dishes after celebrities, perhaps in the desire to increase purchase of an item despite the fact the person being named doesn’t even know about the dish. But this one was named after a national scandal in the 1970s.

Since our kids don’t get past studying World War 2 in most of their history classes, it makes me wonder if they would even have an idea why a salad would have the name Watergate to begin with, or how the salad itself would get such a name.

Well, actually, I’ve heard many an answer to that one. Some say it was served at a restaurant at the Watergate complex, the building made famous by the Nixon administration when G. Gordon Liddy (yeah, the Buy Gold guy) and those seven guys you may have seen depicted in All the President’s Men starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman decided to undermine the election, insuring that Richard M. Nixon would be re-elected.

The origin of the concoction itself seems to come from Jello who wanted to market their pistachio pudding. Originally called Pistachio-Pineapple Delight, this mixture was easy to make, tasted good, and served as either a salad or dessert for the home or party table.

Whether the name change was a result of a restaurant, the scandal, or the fact it was made up of marshmallow, pudding, and fruit like the Nixon administration itself, the name Watergate stuck and even today’s generation knows the name, as well as the flavor.

Toss this one together in under five minutes and serve it fresh or chilled.

Watergate Salad
1 20 oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 c. miniature marshmallow
1 package pistachio instant pudding
9 oz. container Cook Whip

Mix it all together and serve.

Optional modifications:
Add drained maraschino cherries as a garnish
Substitute Orange, Cherry, or Strawberry Jello for the pistachio pudding. When choosing orange, add a can of mandarin oranges in place of the pineapple. Even sliced, seedless grapes or coconut flakes add a nice zing to the dish.


Tristi Pinkston said...

I've had this salad, but never knew its name. Interesting ...

Tristi Pinkston said...

I've had this salad, but never knew its name. Interesting ...