I am a fat man, and as a result, I eat a lot of salads. (I also happen to quite like salads.) The salad I can make myself for cheap at home is about a hundred times better than anything you could ever sell me, but sometimes it is neither possible nor desirable to have my own salad with me when I’m out. So I will, on occasion, buy a salad from people like you.
Now, admittedly, I am a bit of a food snob. But even given that, I do not believe it unreasonable to ask you to observe the following rules.
1. Shredded lettuce has virtually no place in cuisine. It belongs only on fast-food tacos, in chain-store sub sandwiches, and in rabbit cages. It certainly does not belong anywhere on a salad. Cabbage may be shredded for coleslaw, but lettuce in a salad should be torn, in leaves. Please do not sell me something with shredded lettuce and call it a salad.
2. While meat salads are perfectly acceptable and have a rich tradition, here is another rule: if what you are selling contains more meat, cheese, dairy and egg items than it does vegetables, it should not be sold as a green salad, dinner salad, chef salad or garden salad. If you try and sell me a container with lettuce and tomatoes covered with ham, chicken, three kinds of cheese, egg, and creamy dressing, what you have there is not a salad: it is a sandwich with no bun.
3. The very essence of salad is that it is served cold. If it is heated, it is not a salad. Hot salad is a contradiction. Meat toppings on a salad are acceptable, but they, too, should be served cold; if you serve hot meat, again, what you have is not a salad, it’s a meat entrée on a bed of vegetables.
4. Again, as a general rule, salads presented as “green” or “garden” or “vegetable” should have more than two vegetable ingredients. But an even more important consideration is freshness. Consider this: if I can take any single ingredient in your salad – lettuce, tomato, carrot, radish, onion, whatever – and hold it by the edge between my fingers, it should be crisp and fresh enough to stay at least semi-upright, rather than wilt and flop against my wrist. Otherwise, what you have is not a salad, but a vegetable side dish. This should not be exceptionally difficult to achieve, living as we do in an age of refrigeration.
5. “Caesar salad” means something very precise and particular. I realize that I’m fighting a losing battle on this one, but I shall continue fighting it until I die. Here are things a Caesar salad should contain:
- Romaine lettuce
- Oil-based dressing
- Raw egg
- Cracked pepper
Here are things a Caesar salad should not contain:
- Iceberg lettuce
- Cream-based dressing
- Cooked egg
Now, cognizant as I am of the unshakable culinary dullness of the American public as a whole, I am willing to concede that outside of good restaurants, I am unlikely to find anchovies or raw egg in my salad. I am willing to tolerate the appearance of Parmesan cheese and the disappearance of fresh cracked pepper. But by God, I will not abide chicken. And most importantly, it must, at the very least, irreducible quality necessary to legitimately belong to the Caesar salad family, have Romaine lettuce and an oily dressing. Serving iceberg lettuce with a creamy dressing and calling it a Caesar salad is an insult to the Cardini family name. It’s like serving something with no tomato, cheese or wheat and calling it a pizza: it may be perfectly fine, and some people may even greatly enjoy it, but don’t call it a pizza, because it does not contain the most basic ingredients a pizza must contain.
Yours in Christ,