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Sultry salad days of summer

Cool Salads
Cool Salads
Photo by Gregory Son

It is presumed that when William Shakespeare wrote, Antony and Cleopatra, he used the words, “…My salad days, when I was green in judgment, cold in blood…”, he was referring to the fact that Cleopatra was bemoaning her youthful dalliances with Julius Caesar.

Somehow, now days, one thinks of salad days as a time when the summer ushers in a lot of heat and sticky humidity. One imagines a time of year when it becomes far too warm to heat the kitchen by turning on the oven, or, for that matter, a time when the escalating temperature lessens the appetite. It is a perfect time for salad.

There are literally thousands of varieties of cool, colorful, anti-oxidant rich, healthful salad offerings from around the world, including many that were originally created with interesting histories, such as the always-popular Caesar Salad. It is thought that it was attributed to restaurateur Caesar Cardini. It is said that while living in San Diego, California, Mr. Cardini ran a restaurant in Tijuana (as a way to avoid the restrictions of Prohibition). In 1924, on the Fourth of July, he went to his kitchen only to discover that he had run out of a lot of is usual ingredients. He gathered up what he could (romaine lettuce, anchovies, a lemon, an egg and some Parmesan cheese), and with a great flourish, proceeded to prepare his creation table side.

The Cobb Salad is another dish with a fascinating history. It’s beginning is said to be the invention of Chef Chuck Wilson, who was then employed by Robert Howard Cobb, the owner of The Brown Derby restaurant, in Los Angeles, California. Searching his supplies late one night, the chef came up with some leftovers. These included some cooked chicken, onion, bacon, and crumbled blue cheese, and then tossed with French dressing. Was it named for Robert Howard Cobb, or was it really an acronym (chicken, onion, blue cheese, bacon)?

The Waldorf Salad was created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City (before it merged with The Astoria Hotel in 1897). It is composed of diced apple, chopped celery, a little sugar and chopped walnuts, tossed with mayonnaise.

In Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and in fact, all over the world, people enjoy salads. In Indonesia there is Gado Gado. http:// It’s made of slightly steamed cabbage, cooked green beans, boiled potato, and hard-boiled eggs, tossed in a peanut dressing.

All over the Middle East, Tabbouleh is served. It is a salad made out of bulgar wheat, tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley. It is dressed with olive oil and lemon. In France one might order Salad Nicoise. This is a Tuna Salad with potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs and Nicoise olives.

The list of varieties and salad variations goes on and on. In fact, so much so, that there is not enough room in this publication to list them all. There is however ample space to consider making salad a good, healthy choice for you next meal during these hot, sultry, steamy, and sumptuous dog days of summer.

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