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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Salad- What does it really mean?

Over the weekend we (my family) attended this great party for one of our relatives' birthday, and there was the best red bean ice cream I'd ever eaten! There was also a large bowl of Japanese salad with ginger dressing. Still, if you think about it, isn't salad kind of confusing? 
 I mean, "Salad". If you think about it, aren't there multiple ways to describe it?

   The Merriam-Webster dictonary says, "Any of various usually cold dishes: as a) raw greens (as lettuce) often combined with other vegetables and toppings and served especially with dressing b) small pieces of food (as pasta, meat, fruit, or vegetables) usually mixed with a dressing (as mayonnaise) or set in gelatina green vegetable or herb grown for salad; a usually incongruous mixture," which seems legitimate.
   On the other hand, Wikipedia says, "Salad is any of a wide variety of dishes including: green salads; vegetable salads; salads of pasta, legumes, or grains; mixed salads incorporating meat, poultry, or seafood; and fruit salads. They include a mixture of cold and hot, often including raw vegetables and/or fruits," but don't we all know that it's just a large compilation of ideas anyway? It doesn't seem like salad has to much to fight over, but there is much more to salad than meets the eye.
   For one thing, who invented salad in the first place? Historians say that the early Romans ate dishes of mixed greens with dressing and the Babylonians were known to have dressed their greens with oil and vinegar. Even the royalty ate salads! England's King Henry IV a tossed mixture of potatoes and sardines with dressing and Mary, Queen of Scots enjoyed celery root  tossed with lettuce, truffles, chervil and hard-cooked egg slices topped with mustard dressing. A few thousand years later, in the US, salad was popularized and restaurants began to pop up with salad bars. Even now, we don't know how humans started to mix veggies with sauce and random bits of food to create these hodgepodges.
CaesarSalad3.jpg   Why do we call salad, salad? (Salad was derived from the Latin sal, meaning salt.) Why not call it something else, like vegetables and sauce, or leaves and fruits, or even random food topped with other random stuff, since that's all salad seems to be? First of all, salads can be made of anything, as long as it's a mix of foods, which contradicts its salty meaning. There are fruit salads, sweet potato salads, noodle salads, pasta salads, Fattoush, and the almighty Caesar salad
   One thing we do know for sure is that the Caesar salad was not named after Julius Caesar as most people like to think. In fact, the salad's name is commonly attributed to the Italian Caesar Cardini. He supposedly created the dish in 1924 when his kitchen supplies had been recently depleted due to the Fourth of July rush in the restaurant.
   By the way, how do you pronounce salad? Do you stress the first sa or the ending lad? Or do you not even say salad? Why do we typically think of salad as leafy? Why don't we call all foods salad, if that's just a mixture of random foods? The wonders of the world...


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