Whatever Happened to Baby Greens? or Strange Salads from 1940

"Salads have become increasingly popular in recent years, and with heightened popularity has come a greatly widened consideration of what makes a salad."

You can say THAT again, Sister! The salads we're going to be seeing today ain't your mamma's cole slaw, no-how.

These dishes are the Elton Johns of salads... The Liberace of Salads... The Cher of Salads. Bizarre! Outrageous! Time-consuming! And often shaped like barnyard animals! These are...

...500 Delicious Salads. Brought to us, it appears, by the Culinary Arts Institute's Marlene Dietrich look-alike...

Because nothing says "Home Cooking" like the presence of a severe, booze-swilling Austrian actress.

And setting the stage for Overly-Detailed Salad Extravagance is this first item in the book, "Spring Flowerpot Salads"...

You get the sense right away, that you're stepping into an alternate universe when decorative salads like these are set up as the standard for everyday eating. And then you read the caption:

These flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la, are the loveliest luncheon salads.

"Tra la"?

See it's the "tra la" that frightens. The "tra la" that doesn't so much convey lighthearted joy over salad-making as it does that the little wife has spent too much time inside the house forcing unnatural cheer during the Depression, and now some strange breezes are starting to blow through the windmills of her mind.

And as she becomes increasingly paranoid, why, even the SALADS HAVE EYES...

This salad reminds me of that Salvador Dali dream sequence in Hitchcock's Spellbound. The caption reads:

The brilliant color of the cranberry ring filled with shrimp and garnished with pineapple slices and cream cheese makes a real picture.

A picture? You mean one of those portraits where the subject's eyes look back and follow you all over the room? Do you not SEE the eyes, O Culinary Arts Institute People? Are you turning a blind eye to the EYES?

This is creeping me out. Let's move on to something a little more soothing. Like to a miniaturized version of the set from "Lost."

Once the passengers on flight 815 crash landed, they stayed for a healthy lunch of cream cheese, mayonnaise, unflavored gelatin and egg yolks.

The caption tells us:

This molded chicory crown will add new laurels to your reputation as a hostess.

Possibly so-- folks really are hooked on "Lost," aren't they? And next week you can serve a "Desparate Housewives" themed hotdog ring.

Speaking of desparate housewives, how about this salad?..

The caption reads:
Mold jellied salads in perky shapes for individual service instead of using large molds. When arranged on a bed of chicory with mayonnaise piled in the center, they'll keep the family coming back for more.

Oh, they're perky all right! If you put some Mardi Gras beads on the plate, it could be New Orleans during the parade.

Am I the only one who thinks Sigmund Freud would have had a field day with this dish?

But now we move onto the holidays. And what says Easter better than...

"Bunny Salads"?

And no, they are NOT mice. Or hamsters, or guinea pigs... They're bunnies. You can tell by the carrot on the plate next to them.

What-- guinea pigs and hamsters like carrots, too?

Well, nevermind. This is art.

And just what is this art that "will delight every youngster at the Easter party"?

Lime gelatin, cottage cheese, pear halves, pimiento cheese and paprika. Yes, indeed, what kid wants a cheeseburger and fries when he could have pimientos, curdled milk products and lime Jell-o?

I notice-- and there's no picture of it, I'm sorry-- the book also suggests a "Duck Salad" where ducks heads are made from peach halves, cottage cheese and mayo. Not a duck to be found in it! So our friend Daffy can breathe a little easier.

And lastly, I give you...

Turkey Salad! The first official turkey salad I've seen that's 100% turkey free!

It's made with pears, pecans, watercress, apple, pineapple, candied cherries, cream cheese French dressing and, of course, pimiento. And the caption confides:

Turkey gobbler, sea lion or pussy cat will be the result of your skill and imagination
And psychiatric evaluation will be the result of your salad ideas, dear Culinary Arts Insititute People. I mean, first of all, this doesn't really even LOOK very much like a turkey, does it? And then when you start trying to trot out things like kittens and SEA LIONS...

They're going to be packing your bags for the Institute for the Very, Very Nervous in two shakes of that pussycat's tail.

Well, that ends our journey into the wide world of 1940s salads.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy the past posts regarding vintage cookbooks:

And have a wonderful, pimiento-free week, my friends!


kdawg68 said...

Bunny salads? I must admit those do look like field mice - or perhaps voles. :)

And I'd also like to agree that the presence of booze swilling Austrian actresses does have a calming, motherly effect on me.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Kdawg- I think it's the ears-- they're not long enough for bunnies. And it's good to know that the image of Marlene Dietrich brings you back to soothing memories of drunken angry hausfraus. :)

Claire said...

I blame these ladies for putting the world off eating salad.

Your food is not meant to scare you.

Ekim said...

The Liberace of salads must be yearning for Paul Newman's salad spray.
You can make a salad look like meat but I'm still not going to be a vegetarian.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Claire- Ah, but this was supposed to be CREATIVE! And to wow your luncheon guests! (Er... yeah.) :)

Ekim- Possibly so, but given the fact that the Paul Newman salad spray would have been the only healthy-ish thing about these salads, my guess is it wouldn't have made the cut.

Cream cheese AND mayo... now that's eating lite! :)

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Rosemary said...

Wow Jenn,
Those are some interesting salads?
I think the bunnies, look kind of the pigs.
I'm sure by the time they finished making these, they were too warm and not very good.
Funny post!!
Have a great week,

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Rosemary- yes, I can absolutely see the pig element to them, now you mention it.

And no question about them being warm and over-handled... I hadn't even been thinking of that.

Yikes! You have a great week yourself, Rosemary!

see you there! said...

I'm in such a dither! I just don't know which one of those salads to make first. I truly want to wow my guests.


ThriftShopRomantic said...

Daria- And wow them you will, with really, any of the choices above.

Yes, indeed, they see you've taken the time to mold your salad into a turkey, a flower pot, or a breast implant shape, and they will look at the dish with eyes wide and say "WOW"...

And then ask you how you're feeling these days. :)

chyna said...

Now we know where they came up with the idea for breast implants. Why deal ol' moms molded gelatin salads. Don't hear much about the Forties. Think we know why now. Those are just scary!

Lidian said...

I expect nothing less of dear Ruth Berolzheimer! What a strange imagination lurks in that glassy-eyed marcel-waved blonde head...

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Chyna- That's certainly what they look like. They kinda have that 50s cone-bra look to them.

Lidian- Ah, I should have known you'd be well-familiar with Ruth, given your own excellent horrific recipe tales!!:)

TattingChic said...

The forties were such an interesting time, weren't they? I love looking at magazines from that era. I'm usually looking at vintage lace patterns, but those bunny salads certainly caught my eye!

chyna said...

I didn't even think of the bullet bras from that time. They sure were uptight, enough to mold the salads to look like perky pointy swirly breasts and tell people they were something else. LOL

Lois said...

OMG! I laughed so hard while reading this that I had to keep re-starting over again, and again. I thought I was trapped in a time warp for a minute or two. LOL!
I just wondered if a frilly half apron with a big bow at the back, along with a knee legnth skirt, nylons and heels were mandatory for making the salads. Any idea?

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Lois-- An apron? Absolutely! If only to protect your beautiful crinolin dress from the run-off of the unflavored gelatin, cream cheese, cottage cheese, pimiento cheese, and mayo.

A girl has to keep herself tidy when preparing food shaped like wildlife, donchaknow. :)

punk in writing said...

I'll never look at a vegetable the same way again! :D

Thanks for posting this.

Jenn Thorson said...

Punk in Writing-- My pleasure! Though you may indeed be the very first to thank a person for causing vegetable trauma. :) Cheers!