What’s in a Name?

Recently, I found a recipe in my in-box.  This is not odd.  Taste of Home sends me recipes daily.  For some reason, however, a recipe called Polish Casserole caught my eye.  Before all of you clean eating, organic loving, raw produce foodies yell, “FOUL!” keep in mind that we are all, me especially, a product of our upbringing.  No self-respecting Adventist ever turned their nose up at casseroles without a good reason.

Here was my dilemma. As I was beginning to make the Polish Casserole, I discovered that I was missing two key ingredients listed in the recipe.  Normally, this would be a problem, except that, when you’re a vegetarian you grow accustom to improvising and substituting.  I’ve done it before.  The issue was that I wasn’t sure at what point I ought to have changed the name of my culinary creation to preserve the integrity of the original? I didn’t have Swiss cheese.  I didn’t have Kielbasa.  I substituted Muenster for Swiss and Morning Star sausage links for Polish sausage, and as a lesser sin, I used red onion instead of green (if anyone out there reading this is Polish, let me apologize in advance).

As a child, my mom had a dish that she made on a semi-regular basis.  She called it Chop Suey.  I made a  quick, online perusal of Food Network recipes, and determined  that what she made was vaguely similar, but not quite on point with Chop Suey’s true intent.  I have blamed my childhood Chop Suey experiences for my longstanding aversion to Chinese cuisine in general.  This is what I was trying to avoid in my own family.

All of that back story to simply say that I didn’t want to create any lasting ethnic food prejudices for my own children’s pallets.  To be safe, I renamed the recipe.  What was Polish Casserole became Nancy’s Surprise.  It’s sort of like Tuna Surprise without the tuna. 🙂

Stay tuned, our forks are yet to be lifted in this grand experiment with names, cheese substitutions and cooked sauerkraut concoctions.

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