Archive for May, 2017

The Taco Salad

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

National Salad Month is a time for reflection as well as for celebrating. A month designated by a venerable professional association – the Association for Dressings and Sauces – reminds us that the corporate and the cultural have been deeply fused for a longer time than we may realize.

Take the Taco Salad. Truly, an American innovation worth celebrating. Sure, it may be disparaged by more discerning palates, but the taco salad is a Tex-Mex classic, right up there with nachos, chimichangas, and chili con carne. Who can resist the two kinds of crunchiness – crisp icebox lettuce, and crunchy fried tortillas? And come on, you have to love a food that allows you to eat the bowl it comes in.

But the story behind the taco salad is a bit different than those others. It’s a story of collusion between two American greats: the Walt Disney Company and Frito-Lay.

Elmer Doolin, the founder of Frito-Lay, known for Fritos as well as other delicious snacks, petitioned Disney to allow Frito-Lay to open their very own “Mexican” restaurant at Disneyland. Casa de Fritos opened in August 1955, just down the way from Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House. Casa de Fritos specialized in basic Mexican-style dishes, each served with a bag of Fritos. And if you wanted more Fritos, there was an animatronic vending machine on the way out.

Besides inventing the Dorito (by frying their stale tortillas rather than throwing them away), Casa de Fritos invented the venerable taco salad.

As you can see, at the top of this menu is “taco in a ‘tacup’,” which was in fact, a tiny taco salad – ground beef, beans, sour cream, and cheese, served in a hard “taco cup” made out of a frito shell.

As word spread, the taco in a “tacup” was copied by other restaurants and grew in size into the taco salad. By the 1960s, taco salad was appearing in recipe books.

And as its fame spread, so did its mystique. To this very day, this American classic brings a fiesta wherever it goes.

So three cheers for the manufactured-yet-beloved taco salad and to the corporate powers which made it possible!

Everyone loves taco salads!

RUSSIAN AND THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING ARE NOT THE SAME

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

We wouldn’t be responsibly celebrating National Salad Month if we didn’t dedicate at least one post to salad dressing. After all, National Salad Month is promoted by the Association for Dressings and Sauces.

Today’s post is about two dressings which frustratingly are often considered interchangeable: Russian and Thousand Island.

Which is which???

“They look the same,” you may say. “They’re made from the same general ingredients,” you might also say. “They do pretty much taste the same,” you may also also say.

Well then, you would be wrong.

Let’s start with Russian dressing. Russian dressing is more of a sauce than a dressing. You really don’t want it on your salad. You want it on a sandwich. It’s too thick and just plain wrong for a salad.

Russian dressing, like Thousand Island, begins with a ketchup and mayonnaise base, but unlike Thousand Island, it contains horseradish along with spices, sometimes pimentos and chives.

Not only are people misinformed about Russian vs Thousand Island, and what exactly it is, its very name is a misnomer. Russian dressing? Not even Russian.

Thousand Island dressing is mostly used for salads, although it can sometimes be considered a condiment. It is mayonnaise based, with just a touch of ketchup, and also relies on pickle relish and a hard boiled egg for its distinct thick and sweet taste, opposed to the more tart, vinegary taste of Russian dressing.

Named after the Thousand Islands region on the upper St. Lawrence River between the U.S. and Canada, the exact origin of this dressing is up for debate, but it was likely invented in the early 20th century, around the same time as Russian dressing.

Thousand Island dressing is usually reserved for salads, although sometimes it is used as a “special sauce” on sandwiches at diners. In-N-Out Burger’s “spread” is in fact Thousand Island dressing.

So before you consider these two dressings to be interchangeable, think again. But now that you know the difference, don’t get boastful about it. No one likes a salad know-it-all.

Candle Salad

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

May is National Salad Month and we at the Guild are celebrating salads all month long!

One of the more disturbing salads we’ve come across is Candle Salad, one of those dishes from mid-20th century American cookbooks that leaves you wondering about the mental state of housewives of the era.

It was Sigmund Freud’s birthday on May 6th, so we thought it was fit to celebrate the day with a Candle Salad. Of course being 21st century Americans, we had to document it.

So here’s how you make a Candle Salad.

The ingredients. Lettuce is optional. We chose not to take the option.

Always wash your hands before making a salad. Salad is food too!

Open the can of pineapple slices.

When the tab rips off the can before you can open it, use a can opener.

When the can opener is too dull to fully open the can, use a knife.

Just be careful not to cut the pineapple slices with the knife.

Place a pineapple slice in the center of a plate. You could also use multiple slices – just make sure to stack them.

Peel a banana.

Slice the banana. You really want a not-too-large slice (one banana can certainly make two salads) but we wanted ours to be as long as possible for maximum effect.

Place your banana firmly on the pineapple ring. Whipped cream or cottage cheese can also be used to adhere it in place, but we’re purists.

Apply whipped cream (to mimic candle wax)

Apply a cherry (for the flame)

Et voilà!

 

Finally, document it for Instagram.

A repast worthy of Freud!

Happy National Salad Month!

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Since 1992, May has been designated as National Salad Month by the Association for Dressings and Sauces.

So we’ve decided to join the bandwagon and celebrate the wonderful world of salads all May long!

Green salads! Fruit salads! Meat salads! Dessert salads! The wonders of salad extend to every eating opportunity.

(and in honor of the Association for Dressings and Sauces, don’t forget the dressing)

To get the month rolling, here are some lovely salads. Feel free to list your favorite kind of salad in the comments.

Chef salad

Fruit salad

Macaroni salad

Wedge salad

Bean salad

Tuna salad

Greek salad

Potato salad

Caesar salad

Taco salad

Mesclun salad

Larb

Tabouli

Wurstsalat

Waldorf salad