What constitutes a salad? Well, that question isn’t a simple one, really. It depends entirely on when the person asking the question lived. A salad in the 1920s would have looked like Tomato aspic or boiled vegetables. A 1950s salad would likely have included gelatin, cream and perhaps corned beef. Salads in the 1980s were big, full of chopped meats. Then we discovered baby lettuce and bags of tiny spinach leaves. And so it goes, as the stomach churns, so too turn the days of our salads.
As with many things, we are enjoying a resurgence in popularity for retro things. Retro recipes are coming back and folks are enjoying simple foods from their memories. Potato salads, fruit gelatin molds, shiny foods in technicolor as if right out of Betty Crocker’s dreams. What to make of this? Well, I’m certainly not the first to think that all this nostalgia has much to do with our feelings about our country, our lives, in this modern age. Nothing feels as comfortable as tupperware bowls full of creamy salads and shimmery fruit molds, foods at home on our grandmother’s tables.
Sure, there are some salads that I am just not ready for the return of – the corned beef gelatin is one – but I’ll be giving some of the older molded salads another look. Cheaper than a shrink, a little salad therapy might be just the thing.