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Chefs Salad Twixt Greens · 2005-09-05

by Alexander

        Salad: dessert of the vegetarian, desert to the carnivor. But perhaps this discrepancy will become a thing of the past. After recently enjoying the proximity of some of the world’s finest salad makers and tossers I have learned that salads are not just preamble, setting the stage of a well crafted meal, they are works of art made, only sometimes, of the purest green alchemy.
        The first thing you notice coming into the kitchen of well known vegetarian luncheonette Green Pieces are the rows of preparation table with their flurry of hands peeling heads of lettuce. After running the gauntlet of green leafy flagellators you come to the station of master chef Pierre Lapin. “La salad is not so hard? You have lettuce, you have cucumber, they are both crunchy.”
        Despite this seeming dispassionate elucidation of verdant eatables, Mr. Lapin is adamant about the sanctity of simple greens. “Salad is not amusement! We are not to eat tasty fruits when romaine is needed!”
        The controversy clearly strikes a nerve as Pierre becomes agitated, “they think it is for noise, yes? Too many colours hurt the ears. Why then so much…so asparagus! I cannot be eating it! It is like spoon for meat.” He stews.
        Sir Gorges Grünesblatt owner of the Salad Haus disagrees. His gentle european deamenor and thick Hungarian accent inspire illusions of wisdom with which he insists, “salad can be most anything. A gallimaufry of cool comestibles! Ze only thing that dictates is not a salad is ze menu.”
        Indeed the Salad Haus menu proudly lists 148 different salads, seasonally available, from classic, Bloody Green and Yellow: Spinach and endive with sundried tomato dressing, to the more adventurous, Crunchy Conniption: rutabega and arrugula with potatoe and garlic paste, to the outright strange, Sushi Perturba: raw Mackerel and almonds with Roquefort and raspberry coulis.
        To some, however, the contents of the salad are secondary. “Who cares if it’s iceberg or reddicio, pasta or piscine! People will remember the balsamic, the mustard and mint. The raucous bite of a pressed garlic dressing, the tender caresses of a basil, thyme, cilantro threesome, the subtle wit of well oiled sesame” espouses Petey Feuille, Chief Dresser at The Diminutive Pickle.
        According to Mr. Feuille, famous for his Creme-de-Ptuie dressing, whose recipe is so secret it has only revealed two ingredients: emulsified olive oil and radish hearts, the lasting impression a salad makes is by it’s dressing. “I will [put] cream on your salad and you will love it!” He exalts.
        For most, even we admitted salad enthusiasts, our attentions are rarely on the final stages of salad preparation. “When you toss the salad you must think like a lettuce. How do I ruffle? Where will I bend? Are those rabbits coming out of the hedge?” observes master salad tosser Fabian Leefage. Ideed he insists the secret life of salad is only finally revealed by the delicate massage of his utensils. He is, howhever, the only one.
        It is clear the realm of salad is strewn with controversy and mixed greens. But after furrowing the landscape with debate of vegetable miscellany it remains uncontested that salad is a refreshing and tasty treat that is, at least, often, a little bit, crunchy.

Justine and Just Earl Sand