A History of the American Salad
Garden Salad- Americans are forever searching for an identity. In our toys, our clothes, our literature, our cars, and our foods, we define ourselves and our times with a distinctive flavor as though out of compulsion to continuously remake ourselves. Americans like new things, embrace them to the point of fanaticism. In all areas of popular culture, we can trace the spirit of the times, even in as narrow a subject as our salads, a small sociological window into the history of American culture.
Garden Salad- A salad, as defined by The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, is “A dish of leafy green vegetables dressed with various seasonings, sauces, and other vegetables or fruits.” That definition hardly suffices to describe a dish of such innumerable variations, especially today when a salad is likely to contain nothing green and leafy.
The salad has been around since ancient times, named for the Latin for salt (sal), with which the greens were seasoned before Good Seasons. As an American food, salads were relatively unimportant until the back to nature movement of the nineteen sixties. This was a meat and potatoes nation well through the T-bone-on-the-grill fifties.
The American salad in the first half of the twentieth century usually meant iceberg lettuce and, when summer vegetables were not available, often included fruit such as apples, raisins, and oranges. Dressings were either oil and vinegar (served in two cruets on a checkered tablecloth) or mayonnaise and/or sour cream based, including Thousand Island and French.
One of the most important landmarks in the evolution of the American salad was lime Jell-O, which appeared in 1930, and began a tremendous proliferation of molded salads throughout the next several decades. The other early revolution was brought about by Hellmann’s mayonnaise in 1915, which home cooks across the nation gratefully embraced.
The best of those early salads survive today as picnic and potluck staples–America’s heritage on a paper plate.
Iceberg lettuce, Tomatoes, Onions, Shredded Carrots and Cucumbers and Home made House Italian Dressing