My Latest Tourettic Obsession

On a warm, sunny summerish day, I drove down the road giggling as my latest word bubble trouble *floated in the air around my annoyed sisters head.

This word was "salad."

A weird word, tonally. Rhymes with ballad but doesn't have the benefit of the soft "b." It starts out hissy and gets nasal fast.

"Salad. SAHHHlad. Salaaaaaad!"

Most of us envision a bowl or plate with lettuce and numerous vegetable, tomato or crouton accompaniments. But it can also be pasta or potatoes redolent with odd mayonnaise based dressings. Eggs chopped and whipped, covered with paprika spread on bread. Mixed fruits. And pre or post dinner courses containing greens only a chef or dedicated gardener would be familiar with.**

It seems to mean, essentially, many so-called edible things with sauce/dressing.

But where did this truly strange word come from?

Saying doesn't help, especially if you're American (more nasal power to Midwesterners.)

"Sah-layddddddddddd....." or (sal′əd)

My other obsession (yes, one of many) demanded that I know the etymology.

I was quite disappointed***.

The etymology is basically, from the French salade which is from the Latin salata which refers to vegetables seasoned with brine. Um, ick.

This kooky, fun multiple use word refers to a condiment/spice/former rumored currency and a definite source of war.

But someone has augmented my love of this word.

I have lifted his fantastic recipe for Tomato and Garlic Crouton Salad and you can peek if you promise to watch his show every time it's on. Even re-runs.

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 pints red and yellow, grape and pear tomatoes, sliced in 1/2
1 cup halved, sliced kalamata olives
1/2 pound perlini mozzarella
8 basil leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, the butter, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook to infuse the butter and oil with the garlic, about 4 minutes.

Add the cubed bread to a large bowl, pour the butter and garlic mixture over the bread and toss to coat. Transfer to a sheet tray and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

In a small bowl whisk together the remaining olive oil and red wine vinegar and set aside.

In a large serving bowl, combine the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, croutons, basil, and the oil and vinegar mixture. Gently toss to coat all the tomatoes and croutons. Let the salad sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Yum-freaking-tastic, people.

* any who know me know that I will utter a word and suddenly need to say it for about an hour to three hours in different intonations until some inner beast is satisfied.

***although I was pleased to discover the term Salad days meaning a "time of youthful inexperience" (on notion of "green") is first recorded by Shakespeare in 1606.

****yes, it is kinda from this.


eviljwinter said...

So the word "salad" comes from a Latin word meaning...



Jen Jordan said...

Brine soaked vegetables.



Anonymous said...

OK, anything with 7 tablespoons of olive oil, and 3 tablespoons of butter, is going to taste good. But...even the dread brine would be healthier. I'd rather dispense with the nutrition of linguistics and simply call it mmm. Salade damne.

David Terrenoire said...

My favorite salad is the liquid salad known as gazpacho.


Jen Jordan said...

Forgot about gazpacho!

Oh, so many salads, so little time.