Monday, October 6, 2008

When Is A Sundae Not A Sundae?: Chinese Sundae

Sometimes, if an item resembles another item in any way, it will take the name of what it resembles. Take, for example, the Appletini -- an Apple Martini that is apple-y, and alcoholic, and served in a cocktail glass, but is in no way a combination of gin and vermouth. Or, take this recipe, from the Milwaukee Ward Relief Society Cookbook:
Chinese Sundae
Carol Meyer

Make sundae in following order:

1. Rice
2. Chow mein noodles
3. Chopped chicken
4. Chicken gravy
5. Chopped tomatoes
6. Chopped celery
7. Grated cheese
8. Chopped green onions
9. Pineapple chunks
10. Coconut
11. Chopped almonds
12. Maraschino cherries

So... this could go in a sundae glass. Sure. And it's different food substances, layered together. It has pineapple. Coconut. Nuts. It's topped with a cherry.

Other than that, it sounds like a hot nightmare. I was going along with it until item 4. Chicken gravy? Oh, no... And cheese? In a "Chinese" dish? I'm skeptical.

I wonder... if we took out the gravy, and layered the chow mein noodles a little higher up, how this would work out. Ditch the cheese. And the cherry. Use a little soy for moisture, if needed, or, heck, some plum sauce or duck sauce. There's got to be potential for layering stuff like a sundae for dinner.

The 1980 publication date hides the fact that these recipes are very, very, very 1970s.


  1. This is an excellent mom made it when I was a kid over 40 years ago and we make it regularly. It's not gravy; at least we use cream of chicken and/or cream of mushroom soup. Sorry, ixnay on the cherry. If you try it, you must add all ingredients for the best me...everyone loves it...dodesta

  2. Ah, I disagree! The cherry is essential in our house. We too have make this recipe for family events for years. (I think it came through our friends at the local LDS Church. It's listing in many relief society cookbooks confirms that.) The Campbell's cream of chicken soup was in my original recipe as well, with crushed pineapple instead of chunks though. My suspicion is that this recipe has evolved from memory and has endured as it is now a classic. It really does taste better than it sounds, but I am sure has no roots in authentic Chinese cooking.