"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.
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...
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:
- Artichoked Up over Befuddling Vintage Vittles-- Artichokes as candleholders? It can't be! Click here.