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Saturday, March 24, 2012



If I were to ask you what a combination salad is you would have no idea and/or laugh at the thought of one--that is unless you remember one. When I was little and into my early twenties, no one ate salad at home with dinner. There was sliced iceberg lettuce served with spaghetti or other meals but not often. And one would hardly call sliced lettuce a salad and yet that is what I remember. But when my parents and I went out to eat, we were asked if we wanted a combination salad.

I always said "Yes! I want one." And my parents did as well. So what was a combination salad? It was lettuce with chopped radishes,tomatoes and carrots in it and that was it! As for dressing, mayonnaise was used on top or the restaurant's specially mixed dressing.

Funny, I hadn't thought of a combination salad in forever till one day it occurred to me that we have certainly come a long way salad-wise! Just stop and think of the variations of salads offered today as well as what ingredients are in them; pretty far removed from what I had as a child.
Ingredients such as croutons, bacon bits, nuts, avocados, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, green peppers, olives and no doubt a hundred more are now considered normal for a salad.

Everyone is used to the above normal but not everyone knows about just eating a quarter of iceberg lettuce or a bowl of shredded lettuce with mayonnaise.  And as for the combination salad, I never eat one like that anymore. But at the time, it was considered the essence of "top of the line!"

Next time you are in a restaurant ask the server for a combination salad and be prepared to get first a look of shock and then the words "What is that?" No one will know what it is unless you are like me and remember them. They weren't much but a far cry from a bowl of lettuce. And as for the mayo on top, you won't get that either unless you ask for it. Some things improve with time and a salad is one of them. There is no limit as to what you want in one or what type of dressing for there are hundreds of types available.

But I remember the plain and then the combination salads very well and now we have a plethora of variations.
I was taken aback not long ago when I was in a restaurant and noticed a salad that was described as "a quarter slice of iceberg lettuce served with hot bacon dressing." Did I order it? Yes I did and oh, it brought back memories of my childhood--the lettuce part at least.

Sherry Hill

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