From conversations at various times with family, friends and others I have come to the conclusion that generally speaking, people fall into two groups when it comes to salads – those who like salads and those who don’t. It looks like there are very few people who are indifferent to salads and I haven’t met any of them so far. I belong to the “those- who-don’t” group if one is talking about the old way of making salads where the predominant ingredient in them is green leaves!
Marcus Samuelsson has been quoted as saying “Salad can get a bad rap. People think of bland and watery iceberg lettuce, but in fact, salads are an art form, from the simplest rendition to a colourful kitchen-sink approach.” Sameulsson’s “colourful kitchen-sink approach” is the way I mostly go with my salads. You know, dig through the vegetable drawer in the fridge and the fruit basket and see what goes with what and then put together a salad that is a nice balance of sweet and salty with a light dressing.
Quoting Yotam Ottolenghi (another favourite of mine) “A well-made salad must have a certain uniformity; it should make perfect sense for those ingredients to share a bowl.”
Talking about how I like my salads to be a balance of sweet and salty, did you know that the word salad comes from the Latin word “sal” which means salt? And that a recipe for salad can be found in “The Forme of Cury”, the oldest English language cookbook which dates from the 14th century? That recipe for salad includes lettuce, leeks and spinach served with garlic, herbs and flowers!
And the first cookbook dedicated to salads in particular was a book called “Salads and Salad Making” published in 1883? Did you also know that in the Roman Empire, the lettuce that was used in salads was a variety called “Prickly Lettuce” which contained a milky sap that digestive properties and mild sleep-inducing properties? So they initially served lettuce salad at the end of the meal like we serve dessert!
Since we’re on the topic of Salads, I thought I’d also share that Shakespeare apparently coined the phrase “salad days” in Antony and Cleopatra using the greenness of salad to convey the sense of youth!
Going back to the Salad at hand, it was a “kitchen-sink approach” sort of day since I had fresh figs which were threatening to go soft and bad. I love fresh figs and can eat them as they are for a meal but my family doesn’t share this trait with me. So to get them to eat fresh figs, I tend to make something or the other with them. This time I needed to make a salad and I used figs with what I had on hand which were apples, pomegranate and almonds, and some Lollo Rosso and Iceberg lettuce.