My So Called Salad - salads with cool stories behind their names



The Romans loved salad, in fact they basically invented it, so most people sensibly assume this salad was invented by Julius Caesar, or maybe in Caesar’s Palace, Vegas.  It was in fact accidentally created in 1924 by Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who ran a popular restaurant in Tijuana.  Tijuana was a popular resort just over the border into Mexico, where many Americans would go and get boozed up during the Prohibition Era.  One particular merry 4th July, Cardini’s restaurant was so busy that he ran low on food and cobbled together a ‘special’ out of leftovers.  The Caesar salad’s spread to Europe is attributed to Wallace Simpson who often partied in Tijuana and became so fond of the salad that her chefs back home were told to recreate it.



In early 20th century California, before refrigeration was available, iceberg lettuce was packed in ice in order to survive train transportation across the country.  Year round and as far as Maine it was taken and as the train pulled into each stop, people would call out “The icebergs are coming!” 



Who knew Iceberg could be so exciting?!  Iceberg lettuce is not my favourite.  And it's the least nutritious of all lettuces, having the highest water content.  FYI, watercress is the most nutritious, containing more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas.  The Romans ate it to prevent baldness: as if guys!


OK this isn't such a widely known dish but it's got an interesting provenance ... it’s a sweet salad, invented by Kraft around the time of the Watergate Scandal, to market their new pistachio jello pudding.  The salad was originally called Pistachio Pineapple Delight and also contained cool whip, tinned pineapple and marshmallows.  Eeeooooogh.  The Watergate Hotel started serving the pudding and it became known as the Watergate Salad amongst Washington ladies who took it to potluck dinners and gossiped about the scandal.  You can just imagine Betty Draper whipping it up.  The name stuck and Kraft reluctantly renamed it.  I've gotta say, I won't be rushing to try it...




And in case you were wondering ...

The word SALAD itself comes from Latin - Salata meaning Salt - because vegetables and lettuce were seasoned with brine in Roman times.

WALDORF - dreamed up in the 1890s in the Waldorf Astoria, New York.

NICOISE - means Nice One in French.  Alriiight no it doesn't ... it was invented in Nice of course!

COBB - invented by the brilliantly named BOB COBB, who in 1937 chucked together some leftovers in his Hollywood restaurant for a few late night stragglers.  The salad became an overnight sensation, with movie moguls such as Jack Warner regularly sending their chauffeurs down to pick some up for lunch.  If only Peardrop had been around then...

MAYONNAISE - said to have been created in 1756 by the Duke de Richelieu's chef for a victory feast following his capture of the port MAHON, Menorca's capital.  Discovering there was no cream in the kitchen, he panicked and whipped up his eggs with olive oil instead ...