Some mornings I wake up ready to hate, and I was in such a mood the morning I saw Molly Yeh’s popcorn salad video — a video which ignited a firestorm of angry and disgusted tweets.
As someone who has spent a lot of time in northern Mississippi, I am intimately familiar with this genre of salad. Coating something — often a canned or otherwise processed thing — with mayo and calling it a “salad” is perfectly acceptable in my eyes, yet I’d never heard of this particular recipe. Interestingly, neither had either of my midwestern co-workers, or any of my midwestern Twitter followers, save for one person who read about it in a church lady cookbook (the best kind of cookbook), and another who found it in a deli case in Madison, Wisconsin. (I suspect it’s hyper-regional, but it’s definitely not something that Molly Yeh made up all on her own.)
In any case, as the day went on, my hatred for the “soggy popcorn” faded and I begin to think that popcorn salad might be good, actually, so I suggested that Joel and I try it and find out for sure. I tried this bacon and cheese-forward recipe from AllRecipes, while Joel went with the Molly Yeh version.
Joel and I have shared many meals, both in person and online — some of which have been quite fancy and expensive — but this was by far the most surprising thing we have ever eaten in tandem. In short, it worked much better than it had any right. It was a corn salad, except the corn was popped, and the mayo-coated kernels were crunchy and chewy all at once. I was delighted. I was charmed. I was apologetic.
In fact, I think we all owe Molly Yeh an apology. Popcorn salad is good, actually. (So good that I’ve been adding it to my green salads, letting the dressing coat and sink in to create a more toothsome sort of crouton, and I think you should do the same.)