I am a very good cook. No one will argue the point. But recently, my family has finally decided to slam me with the bitter truth. I make sucky salad.
It’s true. I will spend six hours creating a masterpiece of a meal, complete with soup, entre, elaborate side dishes, gourmet desert, and wine, then open a bag of precut lettuce, throw in a few cherry tomatoes and slap three bottles of Seven Seas dressing on the table. When I’m feeling particularly charitable, I’ll toss in a few stale croutons.
“Don’t knock yourself out, Babe,” Mark will say as he spoons some withering lettuce onto his plate and shakes the month old dressing so the nasty oil that has risen to the top will blend with the milky chemical laden froth below.
To top off this offense, I actually complain when my family proclaims they’re full from my savory cooking and don’t have room for salad. I nag them into eating the greens because I bothered to make them (or open the bag, as the case may be.) They chew with an expression like I’ve dished out a serving of Donkey’s hay, which now that I think about it, probably would taste better.
So, there it is. Ginny makes sucky salad. And like I said the other night to Mark when he gave me the heart to heart “salad talk”, I can live with that.
Only, I can’t live with that. It is bugging me. Not that I make bad salad, because I’ve always known that I make bad salad – I didn’t care enough to bother improving the silly side dish. I just can’t stand the fact that my family has noticed enough to mention it. Sort of feels like I’ve been robbed of my cooking extraordinaire status. Salad, it turns out, is my Achilles heel, my kryptonite . . . proof that I am inherently lazy in the kitchen.
Now, in their defense, my loved ones confessed their feelings for my lackluster salad with humor. They were teasing me because every other food-related item I present is usually rather good. Salad jokes round out the meal, don’t ya know, and take away any awkwardness over why I keep presenting these elaborate meals on an average day … serving bad salad with a great meal is like wearing a beaded gown to the supermarket, but going in tennis shoes so everyone knows you don’t take yourself too seriously.
I can take a joke, especially when it ‘s deserved, but certainly they know this was throwing the lettuce gauntlet at my feet.
You want good salad. I’ll give you good salad.
Today, I spent the morning on Amazon looking up salad cookbooks. I know, you don’t cook salad (at least, I don’t think so), but there are indeed dozens, perhaps hundreds, of cookbooks that focus on salad alone. Go figure. I bought several. For the next few days, I’ll be busy with Thanksgiving dishes, of which salad, even bad salad, plays no part (one more thing to be thankful for). My new books will arrive just when I’m ready for them. I’ll do a quick study, start with some proven recipes, and get a feeling for overcoming the salad quandary. Then, I’ll start experimenting. Don’t doubt it; I’ll end up the best salad maker this side of the Atlantic. I have a way of over-compensating when I feel inferior. It’s my curse and my gift.
It takes many years for a woman to come into her own. What can I say. I’m a work in progress. Aren’t we all?
Salad handicap? I shall overcome.