I became familiar with ambrosia salad long before I studied the Greeks. My mother’s god food was canned peaches, canned oranges, marshmallow creme, Jell-o pudding, and mini-marshmallows all mixed together - makes me want to vomit, just the thought. Oh, and I think there are some coconut shavings shoved in.
This high-fructose corn syrup delight was always a staple at my Thanksgiving dinners. Every year I had a bite, and every year I remembered to work on my long-term memory, especially in the “Foods I Don’t Need to Try Again” category. And then I studied mythology.
According to my 5th grade teacher, the gods of ancient Greece dined each night on a dish known only as ambrosia. It was said to be the most delicious food in existence and that no mortal had ever had the pleasure of its taste. “It’s just a bunch of fluff and canned fruit!” I remember screaming inside my head, too shy to make a stink, too confused to form an argument.
There are answers to certain questions you just accept when you are a kid, questions like “why do I have a bed time?”, or “why do I have to be quiet at the funeral?” “Because I said so!” was usually the answer to those questions. (It was never “...because the sound of laughing children makes mourning people homicidal.) And to the question, “Why did the Greek gods like the taste of processed sugar and boxed gelatin?,” the answer seemed to be, “because everyone else likes the things you find repulsive. Also, you’re a weirdo.”
My mother still serves ambrosia salad at Thanksgiving, and yes, I still have a bite, just to make sure I still hate it.