8.01.2006

I don't understand salad anymore


I'm sick of the preamble about the heat that seems to stick to the start every conversation today. The more you talk about it, the hotter it seems to get, but as it gets warmer and warmer, I wonder what everyone else is cooking for dinner? It's easy enough to say salad. But really, salad?

Do you hate salad? I get to the point where I do. (I'm not talking about potato salad, egg salad, pasta salad. I'm still into the mayonnaise side of salad, if they can really be called salads.)

I feel the same way about green salad that I do about Star Wars: I don't get it, other people are all over it, but I just stand their nodding and wondering what I'm missing. Washed pre-bagged salad tastes like eating drycleaner bags to me. And "that mesculn mix" is just that: this mess of expensive leaves, it used to taste special, but now its wilting from over-exposure. Ubiquitous mesculn mix, like the cosmo, seems totally '90s to me. Is it that my tastes have changed or has the quality of this spring mix stuff declined?

The greens from the organic stand at the Saturday Grand Army Plaza farmer's market are a crisp exception. They have coolers full of beautiful leaves -- miniature kale and all kids of good stuff. I promise I will pay more attention to their stand this Saturday, even if they are a bit snobby. The problem, I've noticed, is that their leaves only last for a day or two max. You have to get the leaves home and right into the fridge. I put a paper towel in the back with the to sop up any excess water. That seems to extend the life of the leaves bit.

Another obvious alternative is to buy greens the old-fashioned way and wash them and cut them up. Sure, I could do that, but being real . . . at the end of a long day, this seems like too much effort for not enough flavor.

On the last episode of Jamie Oliver's show (it's on in re-runs in the middle of the night on Food TV and I DVR it) he made a Crunch Salad with baby carrots and radishes and sprouts and best of all -- no lettuce. Then he coated it all in a rich, creamy dressing. That looked good and made me long for his knife skills and the assistants he must have to get that many great vegetables together. R* said he likes sprouts and ate them often when he was in Australia. I ordered some sprouts from FreshDirect, so I'll give them a try tomorrow.

Here at my office building the fire safety warden just came over the emergency broadcast speakers: "Conservation is key on this brutally hot day." He wants us to turn the lights off in unoccupied areas of the building. We've done that already, of course.

I'm a bit worried about the possibility of a power cut, as R* and his English friends call them, over the next couple of days. Let's see what happens . . . and I'll distract myself by thinking about what to cook.

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