Some sorts of salad have been consumed for centuries, initially made mostly of cabbage and root vegetables, flavored with vinegar, herbs and oils. Early records of lettuce seemed back in the 6th century B.C. although it bore little resemblance to our existing varieties.
Salads have come a long way since the pedestrian lettuce, tomato and pineapple version. Today there’s absolutely not any limit to the countless varieties, ingredients and lotions available to our salad-crazed nation. Canned fruits and veggies became available and were tossed into the mix, allowing Americans to eat salads year’round. Sounds a little kinky, but this category includes a number of our favorites: tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, ham salad, crab and shrimp salad. The chicken came first, showing up in mid-1800s cookbooks, tuna much later with the arrival of canned tuna. From the late 1930s, Spam made ham salad simple, and egg salad was a natural. With the coming of Jello gelatin, molded salads took their colorful place at any luncheon.
Restauranteur Robert Cobb made the salad which bears his name in his Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood; chef salad surfaced in the Ritz Carlton in New York and initially included sliced ox tongue together with cheese and ham. (Mercifully, in later decades, chicken or turkey replaced the ox tongue) In Hollywood’s early days, Caesar salad was adopted by the celebrities, who happily munched with this trendy salad at a number of their favorite restaurants. The founder, Caesar Cardini, eventually bottled and marketed his trademark dressing in the Los Angeles region. A favourite restaurant in Chicago, the Blackhawk, featured their signature”spinning salad bowl” along with each entree on the menu, served tableside.
French chefs made vinaigrette dressing with herbs, oil, chopped shallots, and paprika, throughout the 1800s. Those especially adventurous additional tomato sauce, which became the basis for classic French dressing. Kraft Foods, in 1939, introduced their favorite edition, orange in colour. Miracle Whip appeared around the same time, labeled salad dressing but primarily utilized to hold together chopped meat, eggs or poultry for a tasty sandwich filling. From the 1920’s, Green Goddess dressing was made at a San Francisco restaurant in honor of a play with the same name. (Good thing Death of a Salesman did not debut that same year.)
Colonial America rose lettuce in their home gardens, together with cabbage, beans and root vegetables. A delicate seasonal meals, it was appreciated in summer only and not available year’round until the 20th century, when California climbed and sent head lettuce nationally. No question foodie president Thomas Jefferson experimented with numerous varieties that were served daily to his family and dinner guests, with vinaigrette dressing or a sprinkling of herbs and mayonnaise (his chef was French-trained).
Initially these varieties were believed greens for the elite because of cost and perishability.
With Americans’ love for pasta, it was simply a matter of time before pasta salad arose, first appearing as easy macaroni salad, giving way to more complex versions and add-ins.
European immigrants brought their potato salad recipes to America, both hot and cold, which used the cheap and easy-to-grow potato as a hearty base. Europe was serving up potato salad as early as the 1600s, usually blended with vinegar, oil and bacon, the forerunner of German potato salad, served hot. Warmer climates enjoyed potatoes cold with cream and vegetables.The French, no slouches in the cuisine section, took it one step further, including mayonnaise, herbs and mustard, Dijon needless to say. (No self-respecting Frenchman would even consider using yellow mustard as Americans do.)
Since the 1970s, when salad bars became de rigueur, the lowly salad has taken centre stage, no longer an afterthought alongside a main route. Supermarkets feature prepackaged lettuce and salad fixings, boxed pasta salad mix and pops of greens and vibrant vegetables, all waiting to be dressed up. No longer considered”rabbit food,” we could indulge almost everywhere. So belly up to the bar and dig .