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Some Thoughts about Salads Not Getting Enough Mainstream Attention

It is hard to point out when salads attained the importance they demand these days since every cuisine in the world would have obviously interacted with vegetables and fruits in a just-about-raw state with a little seasoning. Again, the history of cooking wouldn't be impossible without experimenting with foods in a less cooked way. Somewhere down the line, salads became an acquired taste, a dining table vital that is now synonymous with modern living. Nearly every cuisine would realize the importance of including some herbs in their food and the herbal purity is best consumed in a form that is not barbequed or deep fried - making salads an easy medium of catching up with those micro and macronutrients that cannot be included at all times in a rushed lifestyle irrespective of where you are catching up with the deadlines - at home, school, or the workplace.

A Little Bit About Salad History | Salad Evolution

While arguments continue over the Greek or Roman origins of the salad, it is perhaps in the Americas where the art of salad making, dressing, presenting, and consuming took upon a more serious role. There are so many salad history books that were trending in the Americas more than 100 years ago and in today's comparison, it was like hash-tagging the salad, and celebrating every type of salad, ranging from the candle salad to the chef's special salad and salads so elaborate, it would not be wrong to refer to them as a main course or proper food! Through these stages of salad's evolution, something became a bit blurred too. Salads were presented like the native salad, salads in a salad section, salads as a side dish, salad dressings, tossed-up fresh produce, and salads that came in a bowl, on platters, and those fortified with meats and things that were far, far away from being fresh from-the-farm or being herbal.

Did salad lose its originality while it slowly became more mainstream? People making enormous sandwiches started referring to the option of a salad dressing, taking away the very concept of the salad accompanying your meal. Today, the salad is no longer just a leafy green, it is also animated, colorful in the most shocking manner, and often, unbelievably expensive. But this is not about borrowing notes from a salad historian. This is about one aspect of salads that did not mature enough back then and even now - salads not being packed, retailed, and accepted as an on-the-go meal option, as a small tiffin, or as mini-meal. While many have tried to do it, most have missed the mark, infusing too many spices, condiments, or flowing rivers of cheese in the final product. The leafy-green identity of the salad needs to be maintained. It can borrow shades of blood red from a goofy beetroot but it cannot drip olive oil or creamy sauces. Finding some pieces of chicken in the salad bowl is a good thing, a bit of culinary adventure trip where the meat-finding equipment seems to find something in between the bites - some salad gold-digging that makes it all the more interesting.

All Salads are Not Created Equal | More Salad Culture Inputs

The problem is closer home rather than blaming it all on changing consumer mindsets or restaurants trying to sell away more salad boxes. Salads come without the lineage that they deserve. It is hard to find a book that clearly dictates how finely chopped the green leafy vegetables and fruits should be to make every salad bite, bite-sized, easy to be packed away for on-the-go nibbling or even filling up when the only other option is a greasy wrap or an unseasonal fruit without any real flavor. It was watching Seinfeld that helped me understand the scope of salads being eaten as a mini-meal, as something that can be ordered, and obviously, salads have been a mainstream dine-in option across America. However, the pattern here in India is rather different. I don't recall any of the food ordering apps showcasing ordering salads as a popular option. Even more feeble is the response when trying to talk to a restaurant or a service provider about personalizing the salad. Essentially, salads are still an afterthought when it comes to ordering food or dining in, often disregarded as compared to the larger, bigger, and more proper meal. Clearly, the salad culture is not to be found everywhere - honestly, my interpretation and expectations from salad are along the lines of some seasoned onions and salted tomatoes which are by far, the poorer cousin of the wholesome salads served elsewhere.

Perhaps All Cuisines Don't Warrant Proper Salads on the Side

I also believe that some cuisines are inherently drawn towards underplaying or building up the salad. For instance, oriental cuisines seem to have so much semi-fried and almost raw greens on the side. I have seen folks from this part of the world gulp down octopuses and shrimps and crabs dipped in animatedly red sauces, followed by a few bites of leafy greens on the side. Similarly, a lot of their steaming bowl preparations are naturally high in bringing together many types of greens, taking away the criticality of salads being served in a standalone manner. Compare this with the subcontinent where the meals are high on starch and carbohydrates with lots of cereals and it seems like salads are needed to ensure the fiber content of the meal and the alkalinity of the intestines is maintained.

I am pretty sure that most people would not know about the five basic types of salads despite the information being easily available via an online search. The basic understanding is usually along the lines of salads in the form of tossed salads, salads with vegetables only, salads with fruits, and combination salads that can get very creative. A peep into salad culture also suggests that salads can be served throughout a main course meal, ensuring a more apt type of salad accompanies the main course or even the dessert! I believe that it is not about the lack of awareness about the role of salads from a nutritional and health care perspective or underselling it that keeps it away from becoming a routinely ordered or consumed food, at par with ordering a burger or getting a BBQ platter customized. It just hasn't been packaged well enough. Salads need to evolve and surpass the perception of being predictable.

Simplifying Salads to Make Them More Commonly Ordered and Explored

They need to be presented in a manner that it is easy to consume the leafy mix from a box even when catching up with a meal in the car or in the backseat of a cab. People often complain about the challenges of servings salads since so many ingredients need to be fresh and this is where better preservation methods need to enter the picture to ensure that takeaway salad bowls and boxes can last for the entire day with the vendor's premises without fussing over the weather or the humidity levels. The perception of some traditional salad types such as appetizer salads also needs to be challenged. It is hard to find people who routinely gorge on salads before starting a lunch or supper - salads cannot be just a precursor to a traditional meal. Chefs and food vending brands need to start offering options like some bread or slices that can accompany each salad box to allow people to have some fun in creating their own salad-focused meals. Food bloggers could also talk a bit more about the cause of salads being termed in a simpler way, such as protein salads, seasonal salads, salad meals, high-fiber salads, and exotic salads. This just might help more people understand what they are about to order and take away the high-street aura of salads, easing the leafy greens into everyday lifestyles...

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