Jamaican Potato Salad Extraordinaire
A delicate seasonal food it was enjoyed in summer only and not available year round until the 20th century when California grew and shipped head lettuce nationwide. No question foodie president Thomas Jefferson experimented with a number of varieties which were served daily to his family and dinner guests with vinaigrette dressing or a sprinkling of herbs and mayonnaise (his chef was French-trained). As Americans developed more sophisticated tastes traditional iceberg lettuce took a backseat to Romaine arugula endive radicchio and field greens. Originally these varieties were considered greens for the elite due to price and perishability. Of late retro salads are showing up with quarters of iceberg lettuce and dressing. For Boomers who grew up on the stuff it harkens back to the 50s along with Spam salad meatloaf canned fruit cocktail and Popsicles.
Kale is very good for you like most members of the cabbage family. Borage grows tall plants with fuzzy leaves and lilac colored flowers; its leaves taste mildly of cucumber and it is a bit bitter so don t add too much to a salad. There are some herbs that you can plant once and they will self seed for years afterward (if you let them); these go well in a salad too. Dill and coriander are two of my father in law s perennial annuals that just keep on coming up in odd places in the garden and if you re not careful they can get out of hand. So weeding the seedlings for a salad is a good way to keep them under control and enjoy their flavor. By the time my father in law comes in from the garden at around 5 o clock he usually has two large plastic basins full of a wide assortment of greens.
The creator Caesar Cardini eventually bottled and sold his trademark dressing in the Los Angeles area. A favorite restaurant in Chicago the Blackhawk featured their signature "spinning salad bowl" along with every entree on the menu served tableside. French chefs made vinaigrette dressing with oil herbs chopped shallots and paprika throughout the 1800s.Those especially adventurous added tomato sauce which became the foundation for classic French dressing. Kraft Foods in 1939 introduced their popular version orange in color. Boomers remember it drizzled over iceberg lettuce. Miracle Whip appeared around the same time labeled salad dressing but primarily used to hold together chopped meat chicken or eggs for a tasty sandwich filling. In the 1920 s Green Goddess dressing was created at a San Francisco restaurant in honor of a play by the same name. (Good thing Death of a Salesman didn t debut that same year.) Colonial America grew lettuce in their home gardens along with cabbage beans and root vegetables.