So, it’s a new year and there are probably quite a few of us out there who have resolved to lose weight or be healthier or some such nonsense that we’ll forget by February 2. As always, I’m here to help with your fleeting hopes and dreams. Let’s talk salad. With all those veggies, salads are bound to be healthy AND to help you count your calories.
I turn now to Mary Hunt’s Salad Bowl, first published in 1936 (my copy is from 1948). Mary Hunt comes to the cookbook realm from tea room service (so says the foreword). She gives the American housewife her formulae for dressings as well as complete salads. Now, heaven help us, there are a multitude of salads in this book, including a special section on the meat salad. And, as anyone who has eaten salad recipes from a bygone era knows, there is plenty of gelatin moulding going on within these pages.
So, I take a page from Mary Hunt’s book (21 to be precise) smack dab in the middle of the fruit salad chapter. This recipe is the worst-sounding recipe you’ll ever come across. Seriously. No, it’s worse than your great aunt’s marshmallow pineapple concoction. You really want to play this game? Think about a really, truly awful fruit salad. And, I have you beat. By a mile. I now present….
Banana and Tomato Salad
A large firm tomato peeled, cut into eighths two-thirds of the way down on the tomato. Open up eight petals like a flower. Fill center with watercress and chopped parsley. Cut a ripe banana in half lengthwise, then in quarters. Roll in fresh roasted peanuts shredded. (Let’s stop for a second. What is a shredded peanut? I just put some in the mini-processor and gave it a whirl.) Surround tomato with banana sections so placed as to form a stockade. (You know, so your wild tomato won’t escape.)
And, here comes the best bit…
Serve with basic mayonnaise or French dressing. Crushed cherries and whipped cream may be added to the dressing. A salad that delights your guests.
That’s right, she actually said this would DELIGHT your guests. After they have fled your house in fits of laughter.
Oh, yes. I really did make this one. And, yes, I made Paul suffer through it as well. Tears in my eyes, I brought it to him and said, “Your salad course, sir. Would you like a daub of mayo?” He dug right in. I waited. He took another bite. I waited. He looked at me. “What? It’s kind of good.” I skeptically eyed my concoction. I mean, it looked like this, for crying out loud:
And, Paul’s kind of right. I preferred mine with mayo–just slathered on top. I think because my brain understood the tomato and mayo taste from many a burger joint. And, it just kind of ignored the banana split action going on at the bottom of the plate. Like the indigenous people who couldn’t see the European tall ships coming at them, my palate wouldn’t allow me to understand banana and tomato together.
Would I make this again? Hell no. It’s weird. Very, very weird. Do I appreciate that it came from the 1930s and didn’t involve gelatin? You betcha.