Wednesday, January 28, 2015


This is not a rant, more a reflection;

Just thoughts on salads.  This morning the above photo from Dorothy Hartley's book on  The Countryman's England set me thinking about how our relationship with the varied ingredients of this summer meal has turned from the childhood special Sunday high tea that my nanna also put on the table for us children to the more modern adaptations.  It would be a slice of ham with leaves of fresh lettuce, a tomato, slices of cucumber, spring onions and radishes, to be served with bread and butter and of course a bottle of Heinz salad cream to be dolloped on the side.
As I grew up, and with my grandfather's cooking, we ate our salad in the French style with a dressing, and just the green stuff.  Tomatoes always deserved a dish of their own.  But it was the separation of the different ingredients that niggles at my conscious mind, the cut, soggy seed spilling tomatoes that should not end up on the lettuce or that the vertical cut 'ribboned' cucumber of today did not flop with intense weariness amongst the leaves.
There again in my childhood, there was a crispness about the spring onions and radishes that bite like fire in your mouth,  also the crunch of a cucumber.  This crunch you cannot get unless you grew your own, small, sweet, the seed I sowed  was 'burpless', still I can never remember having the hiccups with eating cucumber....
Lettuces are the same, there is a vast array you can grow, from the French 'frissee' to the Little Gems' which are a favourite, we are into a moment in time when mixed bags of salad are sold, baby leaves they are called.  I grow them myself in tubs, but they can never quite emulate the crisp heart of a fully grown lettuce,  something that seems to be lacking on the supermarket shelves as well.
So my crossness with the meal the other day, was the indifference of serving up a salad that had limp leaves and no understanding of what a salad is, at least in my books, perhaps salads should be confined to the summer months....

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