One of my favorite cooking websites, The Kitchn, reports that the woman who invented green bean casserole has died.
It’s a little mindboggling to think that someone invented green bean casserole, that it didn’t somehow arrive sui generis, fully formed like Athena from the brow of Zeus, in some mid-century Midwestern church basement. But, apparently, it was the invention of a lady named Dorcas Reilly, who was an actual kitchen product developer at Campbell’s Soup. Most processed food manufacturers employ legions of home economists, food scientists, and the like to develop recipes that feature their products, which explains a lot of the weird conglomerations that are characteristic of modern American cuisine. Green bean casserole is perhaps the apotheosis of those efforts. It’s still found on Thanksgiving dinner tables 63 years after it was first created, about as ubiquitous in American homes as any dish you could care to name.
I myself don’t often eat it any more, since the lactose intolerance doesn’t like Cream of Mushroom soup. I tried once to fake my way through it by making a cream sauce with porcini mushrooms to replace the soup, but you can’t always put lipstick on a pig and get a beauty queen. Nevertheless, I have always been a fan, and I believe that American cuisine owes a huge debt of gratitude to Mrs. Reilly, may she rest in peace.