A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

salad as an adjective

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 25, 2008

Last Saturday I had lunch with F at the Casper & Gambini’s in ABC. I know the downtown C&G has been closed for nearly a year now, but I still miss it. When I first moved to Beirut, I stayed at the A’s. Both were out of the country, and in their absence something had gone wrong with their wireless. So in order to check my email, I would have breakfast number 2 (I’m a strong believer in multiple breakfasts) there every day.

Anyway. The downtown location is closed, so I put on my chichi Beirut mall clothing and looked forward to a C&G salad fest with F.

As we waited for the charming but inefficient staff to take our order, we talked about – naturally – salads. And, more specifically, salad dressings.

I love salads, F said, but the dressings here are not my favorite.

Yeah – mine neither. In my opinion, C&G’s best salad dressing is the soy-vinegar sauce that accompanies its breaded calamari.

What we both miss is the flavor burst that accompanies US salad dressings: the salt, the spice, the pepper, the vinegar.

All I taste is olive oil, F said.

I agreed, and suddenly had a nightmare flashback to the first salad I ordered in Damascus, years ago.

I was dying for vegetables that afternoon – I couldn’t wait to see a big bowl of green and leafy things appear before me. But what the waiter set down was … white. That is, there were green leafy items in the bowl, but they had been coated with a thick white substance that looked like mayonnaise.

And that was my introduction to salad cream, mayonnaise’s less well known cousin – at least, less well known in the US. Apparently in Britain its been a big hit since World War I – and its been nominated as one of the “icons of England”:

Where others make do with mere mayonnaise, England has salad cream. The very name refuses all foreign borrowings, baldly declaring its function. Just as we shave with shaving cream, so we have salad cream to dollop on our lettuce and cucumber. In 1999, its first manufacturer and brand leader Heinz announced that the time had come to screw the top back on the jar for good. Salad cream, introduced in 1914, had been superseded by more sophisticated tastes. Howls of anguish worldwide greeted the decision. So pitiful were the lamentations of those who couldn’t imagine any sort of sandwich or jacket potato without it that the product was granted a reprieve.

For those who have yet to discover it, salad cream is not junk. It contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, but is a blend of oil, egg yolk and seasonings, just like – well, mayonnaise. Having rescued it for posterity, Heinz is now encouraging consumers to “think outside the bottle – it’s not just for salads”.

What I object to most about salad cream is the way it turns “salad” from a noun into an adjective. When the two are together, the salad is merely a transport vehicle for the salad cream. Mmmm – not this rabbit’s idea of a meal.

So after all this talk of dressings, neither of us ordered salads – we each had panini. Perhaps it was safer that way :).

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One Response to “salad as an adjective”

  1. Hassan said

    “I agreed, and suddenly had a nightmare flashback to the first salad I ordered in Damascus, years ago.”

    Everything DOES remind you of Damascus! 😀

    Sa7tein for the Paninis, also.

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