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Mar 09, 2023

This colorful gelatin dessert is as much a craft project as it is a recipe. You'll want to draw a diagram of the flag, with the stripes upside down, so you can set it beneath your Pyrex casserole dish to use as a guide for constructing the terrine. Canned pineapple is a must here; fresh pineapple contains an enzyme that breaks down the gelatin's collagen, stopping it from setting.

Betsy Andrews is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience covering food, drink, and travel. She is also a poet. Her books include New Jersey and The Bottom.

Emily Lachtrupp is a registered dietitian experienced in nutritional counseling, recipe analysis and meal plans. She's worked with clients who struggle with diabetes, weight loss, digestive issues and more. In her spare time, you can find her enjoying all that Vermont has to offer with her family and her dog, Winston.

There's a reason The Wizard of Oz is full of memes for my community, why Judy Garland remains popular with drag queens, and why the Pride flag, in its many iterations, incorporates a rainbow. It's because, metaphorically speaking, Kansas exists in black and white. And binary thinking—straight is right, gay is wrong; men are men, women are women—has been oppressive, and even dangerous, to those of us who identify as queer. Thirty-two years ago, when I fell in love with a woman and came out as a lesbian, I told people, "I feel like I tapped my ruby slippers and ended up in Oz." My world was so joyously transformed that everything, all of sudden, was as exquisite as Technicolor.

I have been through it, so I can attest, it is a creative and evolutionary act to discover who you are and to embrace yourself. It's not only life-altering; it can change the world. It did for my generation, and has for generations since. I suppose that's why some people are afraid of us. To the tradition-bound, change is terrifying. If they could only bring themselves to understand the good in our honesty, we'd all take a giant step out of the woods.

I came out in 1989. Fueled by the homophobia that engendered government inaction, the AIDS epidemic raged in the gay community. Queer-bashing was common, even in New York City. It had only been two decades since the Stonewall riots, a response to police raids of queer bars that brought on modern gay activism. I stepped from my former life into a crisis and the political and cultural movement that confronted it. Gran Fury plastered "Silence = Death" on the city's walls. The Lesbian Avengers ate fire at demonstrations for women's and queer rights. Queer Action Figures distributed their political comic books. RuPaul and other drag queens were hosting showcases at a legendary dive called the Pyramid Club. My girlfriend Liz and I shared an apartment a few blocks from the bar with Tom, a friend of hers from theater school. Tom played the male parts in the drag shows, donning an 18th-century wig for Heathcliff, for instance, while our pal Ryan vamped around him, lip-syncing Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights."

All of us were members of ACT UP, the activist organization we all joined to push the government to fight AIDS. At the famous hall in Cooper Union where, 130 years prior, Abraham Lincoln delivered the speech that would ensure his presidency, Ryan sometimes launched Monday night meetings with an uproarious puppet show. Some activists hated that. "Talk about AIDS!" they'd scream, enraged in their urgency to find a cure instead of dying.

Others understood that, though the circumstances were desperate, what kept any of us alive was our commitment to each other, fortified by shared language that privileged laughter in the face of deadly adversity. We needed both anger and humor. We'd march through the streets, chanting, "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!" Then we'd throw parties at our Avenue C apartment, steaming labels off cheap lagers and replacing them with handmade ones: "We're here. We're queer. We're beer."

Liz, Tom and I all worked in restaurants. Food was as much a part of our lives as was our queerness, and we served a lot of dishes at our parties: Tom's bacon-wrapped chicken livers; Liz's chili cheese log. For one party, I pressed roasted vegetables into a terrine that resembled the Pride flag.

In those days, the flag was a simple rainbow. It's morphed over the years into something more complex. The Philly Pride flag (More Color, More Pride), that incorporates black and brown for queers of color; the Two-Spirit flag, with its Native American feathers overlaying the rainbow—there are many varieties of Pride flag now, symbolizing the proliferation of identities that make up an intersectional, eclectic community.

That diversity is our strength. Our community shares misogyny, racism and other inequities with the wider society. But go to any Pride celebration this month, and you'll see that we are also a big, welcoming tent. I believe that if everyone tells the truth about who they are, and we tolerate that, then we can confront our inequities and collaborate on dismantling them.

My current partner and I have raised her son together. A 23-year-old gay man who is 10 years out, he's benefitted from the activism of our generation, and so have his friends, all of whom define themselves in their own way. Transgender, cisgender, nonbinary; asexual, bisexual, pansexual, heterosexual—in a sign of the times, Facebook lists 58 gender categories you can choose from, and there are just as many ways to define your sexuality.

In my mind, that's freedom. Live and let live in all our diversity, and together we experience joy. But there are people for whom traditional categories are so essential that they vehemently disagree with me. Over 400 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in the U.S. in 2023 alone. They're going after gay library books, gender-affirming health care, drag brunch.

In other parts of the world, it's worse. Uganda has made "homosexual conduct" and "promoting" homosexuality punishable by imprisonment. As news outlets have reported, the law is the outcome of anti-gay sentiment spread throughout Africa by American evangelicals. No matter what the missionaries would have good people believe, the punishment is not commensurate. I ask you, how does my queer joy, expressed openly—laughing with friends, throwing my arm around my partner and strolling down the block—really hurt anyone else?

Such is the history of social movements. We think we've done the work, then the gains slip away. It's one step forward, and two steps back into the woods. Sure, it still drives me to march in the streets. But in the face of all this hatred, this Pride Month, I also want to speak about love and joy, and the magic I felt three decades ago when the myriad parts of me—my activism, my love for food and hospitality, my sexual identity—all came together.

The latest iteration of the Pride banner is the 2021 Intersex-Inclusive flag. Rainbow stripes bumping a rainbow triangle and a purple circle, it includes colors for which vegetables do not exist. No worries. Fruit is queerer, anyway. Using raspberries, apricots, bananas, green apples, blueberries, grapes, prunes, dates, strawberries, crushed pineapple and two colors of coconut, all bound together with coconut gelatin brightened by Meyer lemon, I re-created that flag as an outlandish terrine that teeters on just this side of a mess. There's always a berry or coconut chip threatening to venture outside the lines.

So be it. Perfection is not a queer ideal. The point is to make something colorful and outrageous—something very "gay," in the performative sense—and to share it with friends; to remind them, amid struggles, of the importance of having fun. It was so important as a young person to be surrounded by community, to learn from my peers how to be healthy, and very happy, in my difference. So I invite you to tie on an apron and unfurl a rainbow. No matter how it turns out, it's yours. You can be proud of it.

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 (20-ounce) cans crushed pineapple, drained and squeezed dry

1 ½ cups seedless small red grapes, divided

1 cup fresh raspberries

¾ cup dried apricots

¾ cup pitted prunes

2 small bananas, sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch thick

1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 2-inch wedges

3 tablespoons lemon juice, preferably Meyer lemon, divided

½ cup fresh blueberries

¾ cup pitted dates

1 ½ cups coconut chips, divided

6 drops natural blue food coloring

2 tablespoons water

10 small strawberries, stemmed and halved

2 ¾ cups unsweetened coconut water, divided

4 packets unflavored gelatin (about 4 Tbsp.)

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Place an 9-by-13-inch clear glass baking dish atop an 11-by-14-inch piece of white craft board or paper. Using a pencil and following the flag image (see example above), make yourself a diagram: Trace the outside of the bottom of the dish for the rectangular border of your flag. Using a ruler, draw a horizontal line through the center of the rectangle. Mark points along that line at 4 inches from the left, 4¾ inches, 5½ inches, 6¼ inches, 7 inches and 7¾ inches. Mark points at ¾-inch intervals across the top and bottom. Draw diagonal lines from each left-hand corner of the rectangle to the 4-inch mark on the center line. Draw parallel diagonal lines at ¾-inch intervals from the top and bottom edges of the rectangle to the corresponding points on the center line, so that you have 6 nested triangles. Erase the center line within the triangles. Within the first, full triangle, trace a 2½-inch round cookie cutter or jar lid and then trace a smaller 1¾-inch cookie cutter or lid inside it to form 2 concentric circles. On the outside of the nested triangles, add 2 horizontal lines above and 2 horizontal lines below the center line, creating 6 equal stripes (each about 1¾ inches wide).

It helps to write the names of the fruits into their respective sections, so you can place the casserole dish on top of the diagram and follow it. For the stripes, from bottom to top (so that they will appear top to bottom once you turn out the terrine), write Raspberry, Apricots, Bananas, Apples, Blueberries and Grapes. For the triangles, from outside to inside, write Prunes, Dates, Blue Coconut, Strawberries, Coconut and Pineapple, and for the space between the concentric circles, write Grapes.

Brush the dish with oil. Arrange the fruit: Place the casserole dish atop your diagram. Mold the crushed pineapple into the shape of the smallest triangle, about 2 inches deep. Using a cookie cutter or jar lid as a guide, dig a circular hole out of the center of the triangle. Quarter about 10 grapes vertically, and line the hole with them, skin-side down, leaving the center of the hole empty. Make a tube shape out of more crushed pineapple, and tuck it inside the ring of grape halves, forming the inside circle. Pick up the casserole and look beneath to check and adjust your work as you go. Since you will turn the terrine upside down to serve it, the bottom should look as perfect as possible.

Fill the bottom horizontal stripe with raspberries in 2 layers, placing them right-side up within the stripe. Arrange apricots within the second stripe from the bottom and arrange bananas horizontally within the third stripe, each to about 2 inches deep. Toss apple pieces with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and arrange in the fourth stripe to 2 inches deep. Skipping the blueberries (because they tend to roll) and keeping the remaining grapes whole, tuck the grapes into the top stripe in 2 layers. To hold the fruit in, stack prunes 2 deep in the outer triangle to create a border. Then fill in the remaining stripe with the blueberries. Fill in the triangle next to the prunes with dates in 2 layers.

Place ¾ cup coconut chips in a small bowl. Add food coloring and 2 tablespoons water. Mix to coat the coconut with color; drain well. Arrange the blue coconut 2 inches deep in the triangle next to the dates. Arrange strawberry halves upside down in the next triangle, filling in gaps between them with right-side-up strawberry halves. Fill in the remaining triangle with the remaining ¾ cup untinted coconut.

Prepare an ice bath that will hold a heatproof bowl; set aside. Place ¾ cup coconut water in a medium bowl. Stir in gelatin, and allow it to set. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 cups coconut water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is hot to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; add the gelatin mixture and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Pour into the heatproof bowl; place the bowl in the ice bath and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Evenly pour the mixture over the fruit terrine, pressing down on the fruit slightly. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or up to 5 days.

When ready to serve, run a sharp thin knife around the edge of the terrine. Place the casserole dish in a sink or large roasting pan filled with 1 inch of warm water for 1 minute. Set the casserole dish on the counter and place a platter (or cutting board) on top. Flip the terrine over onto the platter (or cutting board), using an offset spatula to budge it out if necessary.

Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it's recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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