Some forms of salad have been consumed for centuries, originally made mostly of cabbage and root vegetables, flavored with vinegar, oils and herbs. Ancient Greeks believed that raw green vegetables promoted good digestion, and the Romans agreed. Early recordings of lettuce appeared back in the 6th century B.C. although it bore little resemblance to our current varieties.
Salads have come a long way since the pedestrian lettuce, tomato and cucumber version. Today there is no end to the hundreds of varieties, ingredients and dressings available to our salad-crazed nation. In the 1920s, they hit the big time, as restaurant chefs created Caesar, Chef, Cobb and fruit salads. Canned veggies and fruits became more available and were tossed into the mix, allowing Americans to eat salads year ’round. Simple vinegar and oil made room for bottled dressings and mayo, paving the way for “bound salads.” Sounds a little kinky, but this category includes some of our favorites: tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, ham salad, shrimp and crab salad. The chicken came first, showing up in mid-1800s cookbooks, tuna much later with the advent of canned tuna. In the late 1930s, Spam made ham salad easy, and egg salad was a natural. With the introduction of Jello gelatin, molded salads took their colorful place at any luncheon.
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