People’s Dairy — Salads

Salads” have a checkered past on America’s dinner tables. In past decades, raw veggies were considered “savage,” and so most fruits and vegetables were disciplined into subservient mush with a hardy boiling. Laura Shapiro explains:

A thorough scrubbing followed by an equally thorough boiling was the usual prescription for vegetables, which had to be cooked long past the point of resistance in order to be deemed digestible. According to the syllabus for one cooking course, it was primitive “man’s” first encounter with a vegetable that prompted his rise from savagery. Fruits and nuts he could consume raw, but the moment he saw a vegetable he understood that it had to be boiled, and at that moment he took his first step toward civilization. Most authorities recommended up to three hours’ boiling for string beans, forty-five minutes for asparagus, twenty minutes for cucumbers, half an hour for celery, and up to twelve hours for beets (90).

Even when the salads of yesteryear resembled the green stuff we have at our tables, our grandmothers were taught to be slightly skeptical of the health of those untamed leaves:

The object of scientific salad making was to subdue the raw greens until they bore as little resemblance as possible to their natural state. If a plain green salad was called for, the experts tried to avoid simply letting a disorganized pile of leaves drop messily onto the plate (90).

So you have these civilized salads from the Dairy Council, complete with disciplined peppers and thoroughly confining gelatine.

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Names like “Health Salad” and “Vitamin Salad” sound so tasty that they whittle away your appetite before you even come to the table. And don’t forget those arcane classic salad dressings. There’s not a vinaigrette in sight! Now you can see the dreaded homemade mayo that made so many people ill at church picnics of yesteryear (contemporary mayos having little that resembles actual “eggs”). And which Thousand Islands exactly sired a condiment with pimentos, beets, catsup, and “thick chili sauce”?

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I keep coming back to the NEW beet salad and the NATIONAL fish salad. And the MOCKING Chicken Salad. Chickens give us so much. Must we poke fun of their noble efforts with that other white meat?

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One Response to “People’s Dairy — Salads”

  1. Mona Faye says:

    Hey ! Don’t knock it until you have tried it ! Mama used to make this Health Salad and it was actually pretty good. ha !

    Now, that Fish Salad sounds completely yukky ! Ugh ! I know some fish lovers who would probably eat it though.