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How do you define trashy?

A post here made me wonder: how do you define trashy? As in White trash cooking? Or do you have another definition? Do you think it is a good thing, a bad thing, or sometimes sorta fun?

A share or two of a favorite recipe or meal (or a tale oof woe) is also greatly appeciated!

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  1. I was wondering the same thing. Now I definitely have to watch this post to see where it goes.

    1. For me "trashy" signifies a dish made entirely or almost entirely from heavily processed and/or mass-produced convenience foods.

      A tale of bemusement rather than woe...Once we attended a potluck holiday party where the hit of evening (for everyone except my partner and me) was a dessert composed of layers of crumbled Oreos, Jell-O brand chocolate pudding, and Cool Whip. Everyone at the party marveled at the fact that we actually made the delicious hummus we brought, but the pudding dish was by far the crowd favorite. Despite high scores for technical proficiency, the hummus couldn't overcome the style points awarded to the pudding...um..."casserole".

      38 Replies
      1. re: hohokam

        I have had that dessert at a potluck too. It was definitely a huge hit made by a teenage girl.
        I grew up in lower South Carolina eating white trash style. I love catfish stew and probably that is as white trash as you can get as it costs almost nothing. If our tomatoes were not ripe enough, we fried them green and fried those catfish instead, using cornmeal to dredge both.
        I will NOT eat crawfish to this day though. I remember seeing them crawling up our driveway during heavy rains. Now THAT would be white trash cuisine.

        1. re: Lewes17266

          I'd consider everything you mentioned low-country, not trashy, cuisine...

          1. re: Caralien

            me, too.. low-country and absolutely delicious.

            low country: made from scratch hot biscuits and bacon fat / sausage white gravy
            trashy: biscuits from a can topped with gravy from a jar that's more food coloring and flour than anything else

            for the record, i love some trashy food -- green bean casserole, tater tot hotdish, etc...!

            1. re: cimui

              Borderline: biscuits made from mix, gravy from a mix. I have a pouch of white-gravy mix sitting in my cupboard waiting for me to have a weak moment...

              I was aghast when I raved over the cookie/pudding/Cool Whip dessert and Mrs. O took me aside and told me what was in it! Our hostess was so proud of it she told everyone but me.

              Is tuna-noodle casserole trashy? Count me in!

              1. re: Will Owen

                gravy from a mix? i'd eat that, especially if there're nice chunks of something fatty and delicious mixed in. biscuits and gravy from a mix only save you about two steps from making these totally from scratch!

                re: cookie / pudding / cool whip... if it's the same thing as "refrigerator cake", boy, i like that stuff, too. a slice of it goes for something like $5 at a bakery down the street from me. trashy? yes! delicious? yes! cheap? no way.

                1. re: cimui

                  Which is trashier, making a pie following the recipe on a store bought bottle of 'key lime' juice (juice, sweeten condensed milk, eggs, store bought crust, food coloring (optional). Or combining frozen limeaid concentrate with coolwhip (r) and putting that in the crust? One is an authentic key lime pie (or close to it), the other a 'fake' one. Or do I have to add another option - pick your own limes, crush your own store-bought crackers?

                  1. re: paulj

                    and lay your own eggs...

                    paulj, i'd say that both are mildly trashy. the second is definitely trashier (trashiness is a sliding scale). that's not to say they wouldn't both be delicious.

                    1. re: cimui

                      ...and grow your own chicken feed which you irrigate using rainwater that you collected in your cistern and/or pumped from your hand-dug well ;-)

                      1. re: hohokam

                        while you're at it, you should just make your own rain, too. ;)

                    2. re: paulj

                      How is store bought key lime juice (which you have in quotes, but is actually key lime juice) trashy or inauthentic? How many people have a key lime tree available to them? It would take about 50 dubious store bought key limes to produce a single pie while a fresh from the tree lime amount would be maybe 15. Store bought graham cracker crumbs are somehow more trashy than graham crackers you crush yourself? The mere act of commercial crushing spells trash?

                      Pshaw.

                    3. re: cimui

                      gravy from a mix is ick. it tastes chemically...like too much powdered bullion mixed with extra MSG and a heap of dried onions. I'd rather have bad homemade gravy than gravy from a can or powder.

                    1. re: cimui

                      I second that - it sounds delicious! :)
                      how about this for trashy:
                      mini hot dogs, canned sliced meats, chips of all sorts (if you could call them that), some unknown mayonnaise concoction, white, pasty bread and more white pasty bread, canned ham salad with miracle whip and so forth ...
                      this was a wedding reception "feast"... I could not believe my eyes ...the memory still haunts me ...
                      happy eating, oana

                      1. re: oana

                        oana, that really does sound bad!

                    2. re: Caralien

                      100% agree- it might be what white trash people eat, but it is, by no means white trash food. In fact, using local ingredients, including tomatoes you grew and locally caught catfish is the opposite of white trash food.

                    3. re: Lewes17266

                      Oh, no, that's not trashy! That's wonderful food!

                      1. re: Lewes17266

                        White Trash cooking would be more like making that Stew with canned catfish meat, instant tomatoe soup & crushed Lay's potatoe chips.

                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                          canned catfish? Where is that sold? Seriously--I've only seen it fresh or frozen, but would probably try it from a can, particularly if it were from Spain (I love the canned seafood from that country).

                      2. re: hohokam

                        My five yo neice and 7 yo nephew make the jello/oreo dessert, and are so proud of themselves when they arrive- their mom ( my SIL) is a fabulous cook and baker, and uses these recipes that are fun for the kids to make. Though I will say, these kids also make amean homemade pizza and great homemade garlic bread!
                        Another "trashy" food that my family loves is "cheesy potatoes" ( sometime call funeral potato casserole). It consists of ore ida frozen home fries or hash bronws, melted butter, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, lots of shredded cheddar, topped with crushed corn flakes and baked. have to make at least two panfuls when we serve it!

                        1. re: macca

                          There was a time when every party had to have two gigantic pans of the potato casserole, alongside hot dogs/hamburgers and green beans from the garden (boiled until they tasted like canned green beans, of course).

                          1. re: jazzy77

                            And if you want to make a one dish complete "trashy" meal, just add cubed ham and broccoli!

                            1. re: macca

                              Oh I have to disagree there! Broccoli has that dangerously healthy good-for-you factor, ;)

                              1. re: Quine

                                Ha! I've actually heard more than a few people from where I grew up say they were allergic to veggies - all of them.

                                1. re: jazzy77

                                  Somebody once tried to convince my husband that she was allergic to water so she was forced to drink sodas.

                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                    That's hilarious! It's stupid on so many levels. :-D

                            2. re: jazzy77

                              I made this for Thanksgiving. Though I used home baked potatoes and cubed them. The texture was all wrong. Next time I'm using storebought frozen cubed potatoes. Funeral potatoes are glorious.

                            3. re: hohokam

                              There's a charming version of the "casserole" you can serve around Halloween, always a hit, called "Graveyard Pudding". In rectangular dish, put down a layer of chocolate pudding. Sprinkle on the "dirt" - crumbled Oreos. Put some vanilla cookies here and there like tombstones. Dot with some blobs of Cool Whip (ghosts). Serve remaining Cool whip on the side in original plastic tub. A perfect dessert for old people, by the way --I mean it's easy to eat.

                              1. re: hohokam

                                Sorry hohokam, but really, is hummus really much more difficult to make than that pudding oreo dessert? I've made hummus and it's terribly easy, not sure your hummus was all that much more "homemade" than the oreo dessert unless of course you grew the beans, dried the beans, made your own tahini etc. Otherwise you're just opening a can of chick peas, some tahini, some olive oil and a few other things and dumping it in the food processor.

                                1. re: Rick

                                  If one actually cares about the flavor and texture of the end product, making hummus takes a bit more than just dumping ingredients into in a food processor and pressing a button. I tend to taste things as I go along and adjust seasonings until I get what I think is right.

                                  Of course, in fairness, I should allow for the possibility of the pudding person devoting hours to producing test batch after test batch, each time tweaking the proportion of Cool Whip to pudding and the size of the Oreo crumbs.

                                  1. re: hohokam

                                    Hohokam, come on, not like I don't taste and adjust before finishing the hummus, but still, not really difficult. Certainly not a high degree enough of difficulty to act like you brought something far superior to the cool whip, pudding, oreo person.

                                    1. re: Rick

                                      I wasn't trying to make a point about differences in "degree of difficulty". I just don't happen to think layering crushed Oreos, Jell-O pudding, and Cool Whip is the culinary equivalent of thoughtfully composing a hummus made from whole foods. My preference is for dishes more akin to the latter than the former. If your preferences don't happen to run that way, that's fine.

                                      The "more difficult" = "inherently better" argument is not one I was making here and not one I would ever make. I eat plenty of simple foods with as much (or maybe even more) gusto as I do with complicated dishes. The difficulty issue is a red herring IMO.

                                      1. re: hohokam

                                        maybe not more difficult, but certainly less processed and definitely less white trash.

                                        1. re: hohokam

                                          I'm coming into this discussion 3 years late but just have to share my "famous" birthday cake recipe. It comes from a time when I had a slew of foster kids (and their friends) and no time for baking from scratch. The kids loved it: a good chocolate cake mix (or Wacky Cake), topped with canned cherry pie filling, then instant chocolate pudding, then real whipped cream. Yummy, actually, and the ingredients can be easily adapted for the occasional person who doesn't love chocolate. For best results, assemble the first 3 ingredients, then poke a few holes and let the concoction sit overnight. Add the whipped cream not long before serving (looks better).

                                        2. re: Rick

                                          Homemade pudding, crushed chocolate shortbread and real whipped cream sounds good to me. But industrial pudding, processed fake cookies, and whipped HFCS with stabilizers just doesn't cut it. I'd rather have homemade hummus from somebody who cares.

                                          1. re: Rick

                                            Rick, come on, now. Hummus is superior to cool whip no matter how you stack it.

                                      2. re: hohokam

                                        The choco pudding/cool whip dessert was brought to our New Year's Eve Party! "Barf in a Bowl" -yuck

                                      3. I've always thought it meant using some sort of processed food product...i.e., spam, velveeta, lipton onion soup mix, etc...

                                        Personally, on occasion, I love me some spam musubi, nachos with cup o' cheese, and a good ol' lipton onion soup meatloaf...

                                        But I'm asian, so it's yellow trash when i eat it! :o)

                                        15 Replies
                                        1. re: soypower

                                          yellow trash, heh!

                                          love spam musubi. this also brings to mind the threads about hong kong fusion cuisine: spaghetti with ketchup, pork chop with ketchup, etc... my grandma's open faced sandwiches made by grilling a slice of white bread spread with mayonnaise and chives until the mayonnaise "melted" and browned. yucky! and yet so yummy...

                                          1. re: cimui

                                            what is it with asians and ketchup? we've taken my dad to some of the best steakhouses in the country and without fail he must have his ketchup with his steak!

                                            i like that open face mayo sandwich idea. i can completely understand how it can be yucky and yummy at the same time.

                                            1. re: soypower

                                              Steak without ketchup? Like pudding without Cool Whip!

                                              I love 'trashy' or 'dirty' recipes. So what is the Oreo casserole recipe? It sounds delish.

                                              1. re: dolores

                                                Literally, you crush up some Oreos and lay them in the bottom of a baking dish (or other receptacle), cover that with chocolate pudding, and then add a layer of Cool Whip. Top with more Oreos. It's like a parfait. Sometimes, I used to get all banada pudding-ish about it and just place the whole Oreos in the bottom of the dish, cover with pudding, and then let it sit for a couple days to allow the Oreos to get soft. This was the epitome of gourmet when I was a kid - and my brother and I used to fight over the leftovers.

                                                1. re: jazzy77

                                                  i don't know where i got this "recipe" from, but when i was a kid, i made this dessert called "on top on top", which consisted of 2-3 layers of nilla wafers and cool whip, all topped with colored sprinkles at the end, then chilled to soften the wafers and set the "cream". my sister still rolls her eyes to this day whenever i mention it!

                                                  this, of course, was before i learned how to make whipped cream from scratch. once my mom and sister hand whipped cream and placed it in the fridge for chilling. being young and wanting to help out, i took the bowl out of the fridge and did some final whipping. they were so mad when they saw i turned their lovely thick cream into liquid. oops!

                                                  1. re: lschow

                                                    Substitute lady fingers for the nilla wafers, and pastry cream for the cool whip, and you have the start of a trifle.

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      haha that just goes to show that trashy can be just 2 steps away from classy!

                                                        1. re: lschow

                                                          >trashy can be just 2 steps away from classy!<

                                                          love it! like yuppified green bean casserole. i was shocked it was actually tasty.

                                                      1. re: lschow

                                                        Also, my boyfriend's mom in High school used to make Butterfinger cake - Yellow cake cooked, holes punched in it while hot, half a can of either sweetened condensed milk or evap milk (I can't remember) and then 4-6 choped butterfingers bars all over. The candy bars semi-melt and it is ooey goooey deliciousness!

                                                      2. re: jazzy77

                                                        It's best when you whip cream cheese in the pudding. And it's awesomely trasty-trashy

                                                      3. re: dolores

                                                        I confess: many years ago I made this for a summer picnic, only I recall subbing chunks of devil's food cake (Duncan Hines, natch) for the Oreos and adding a couple of layers of chopped up Heath bars. Trashy? Yeah, I suppose. But folks dove into it like they were all headed to the electric chair the next day.

                                                      4. re: soypower

                                                        Ketchup is said to have originated in China. According to Wikipedia, the word is supposed to from the Fujian dialect in southeastern China: "kôe-chiap" (in the Xiamen accent) or "kê-chiap" (in the Zhangzhou accent), meaning a brine of pickled fish or shellfish.

                                                    2. re: soypower

                                                      in my experience, Asians love white trash food. Chinese and Japanese interpret it and put a new spin on it, hence the genre of traditional Japanese preparations of American food (forget what it's called). also Asian immigrants seem to love all that trashy stuff (genrealizing here) but I see a lot of educated Asians eating stuff their European or South American counterparts wouldn't touch (i.e. cold Hardees or frozen white castle).

                                                      1. re: soypower

                                                        I made spam musubi and we loved it!! But the mangoes threw us out of ketosis. I haven't made it since. I've also made split pea soup with spam, and black beans & rice with spam in our younger leaner $wise days. I told the kids it was Spam/ham, and they all liked it. I use a ham butt now, and don't make either but once or 2x a year as they are so high in carbs. Guess you can tell we eat low carb all the time. There is a sushi roll with mango on /in it that I love, and we don't go out for sushi often. I guess I fit into the trashy cook mold sometimes, but we do not buy processed foods, so I am a scratch-trashy cook.

                                                      2. Anything based on Bisquick or Jiffy, tubed food (dough or cheese), yellow cake mix, onion soup mix, canned fruit in heavy syrup, Velveeta, Dinty Moore Beef Stew, leftover packets from Chinese takeout (sweet & sour goo, metallic mustard, salty soy sauce), hot dog casseroles/stews, anything involving road kill...

                                                        Is there a time and place for it? Sure. I've sliced hot dog buns into mini toasts, baked them, cut up hotdogs into pieces, and served them with yellow mustard dipping sauce for my neice, who loved it. Made Twinkies from yellow cake mix+water with a can of frosting. I'm still tempted to make a Frito-Pie on the engine manifold if I'm ever severely dehydrated, although my '88 VW would probably impart a better flavor than our Prius.

                                                        A recent one I heard of was "Granma's 5 can soup"--Cream of Mushroom, Vegetable Beef, Tomato, MInestrone, Rotel.

                                                        Barbie Salad (recalled fondly by my father, from his Aunt Barbie, served during the 50's in LA County): Jello with marshmallows & fruit cocktail with a sour cream & Cool Whip/Jello base, made in a ring mold. Similar to pistachio pudding blended with Cool Whip and molded.

                                                        Similar post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/307870

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Caralien

                                                          I really like Jiffy cornbread mix, but I grew up in the lowcountry

                                                          1. re: efrashhi

                                                            I used to eat jiffy blueberry muffins as a kid, and to this day still prefer them to premium blueberry muffins with real blueberries

                                                            :hides:

                                                        2. The word is, IMO, misused in the post you refer to. The common definition of "trashy" includes synonyms like cheap (not as in inexpensive, but as in lesser quality) or inferior or having little or no value. Some might even say low class or without merit. If the chicken dish described in that post is "trashy" I guess I'll have to admit on growing up on trashy food and learning cooking basics with recipes that produced trashy food. I wouldn't use processed food ingredients or "quick" anything today, unless there was no other choice (like being snowed in and having to make do with what's on hand) but I applaud those who choose to use those methods in the spirit of adventure while traveling through the wonderful world of culinary experience.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: todao

                                                            I agree with your comment, todao, but I have to laugh...you say you wouldn't use anything processed unless there was "no other choice (like being snowed in and having to make do with what's onhand)", but how would anything processed be "on hand" in your kitchen if you never used it otherwise.....? (BUSTED! LOL)

                                                            1. re: TAGcaves4me

                                                              Because if you know that there is a possibility of being snowed in/stormed in/whatever, then it pays to have an Emergency Stash in the pantry, and processed foods last forever. Plus if they don't taste particularly good then you're not going to break into the stash unless it really IS an emergency!

                                                              Which reminds me, I just gave away the last of last year's hurricane stash to the food pantry and it's time to restock the shelf. I give it away before it expires and let somebody who really needs it have it.