The Perfect Salad

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Ivy Ho

The Perfect Salad

What if perfection existed in salad form?

I should begin by saying you’re not going to get a recipe at the end of this piece called “the Perfect Salad.” Seems a bit misleading, doesn’t it? You came here for the PERFECT SALAD, after all. But I’m not talking about “perfect” as some frilly adjective to sell you on what you’re reading, the way magazines talk about the “Perfect Summer Getaway” or the “10 Ways to Get Perfect Abs.” No, I’m talking about perfection in the philosophical sense. The Greek philosopher Plato was known for his theory of ideal forms. That beyond this world, there are perfect representations of everything, and from those ideals, we get the concepts for everything in this world. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

That is the salad I want to discuss.

Stay with me because what we’re talking about isn’t just some nice salad or a better-than-average salad or even the best salad you’ve ever had… it is the PERFECT SALAD. Perfect. And isn’t perfection something we dream about, something we strive for? Even if we can’t achieve the perfect salad in this life, wouldn’t it be nice as something to hope for, to dream about?

An international salad crisis

You may not realize what you’re missing out on. Our expectations have lowered so much, when it comes to salads. At restaurants, we get side salads, a flavorless clump of lettuce drowning in dressing. It’s something to tide us over until the real meal hits our table. No side salad has ever upstaged the main course. At grocery stores, we opt for the bagged-and-browning salads you get in the produce section. I’ve spent many an afternoon trying to find the least brown bag of salad. That’s what we’ve been reduced to, and it’s not good.

You and I deserve better. Let’s start with the most controversial part…

The perfect salad would not have dressing

Balsamic vinegar, French, Italian, Russian, blue cheese, thousand island, ranch — people love salad dressing. I’ve seen ranch (my personal favorite) go on everything from pizza to buffalo wings to fried cheese sticks. It seems odd to even call it a salad dressing, since people will dip almost anything into a cup of ranch. Like it or not, dressings have further diminished our salads. You’re eating texture with added flavor sauce. The vegetables should be able to shine on their own. Plato probably didn’t realize that salads would be a problem 2,400 years in the future. In his day, you’d pick the apple off the tree, and eat the apple. The apple didn’t go from the orchard to a truck to a warehouse to a processing facility to another truck to the grocery store to your house. And that ancient apple off the branch probably tasted amazing. That’s what we want — a salad where the vegetables take the spotlight, not the dressing. Maybe, a squeeze of lemon or orange would be nice.

The perfect salad would be colorful

In a previous blog post, we discussed the nutrition rainbow. According to the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), the more naturally colorful your meal is, the more likely it is to have an abundance of cancer-fighting nutrients. Pigments that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors represent a variety of protective compounds.

A healthy meal is often a colorful one. That’s easy enough to remember, especially when you think of how fast food restaurants usually specialize in the brown foods.

The perfect salad would be a meal unto itself

Salad has become the symbol for dieting and personal restraint. “Ma’am, would you also like today’s ribeye special?” “Nothing for me. I’ll just stick with the salad.” If I were that salad, I’d be slightly offended.

The reason why you’re still hungry is probably because the salad did not give you the minerals and nutrients that you actually needed. It’s the same reason why junk food only seems to make us more hungry. With the perfect salad, you wouldn’t eat it and then be hungry five minutes later.

The perfect salad would not have meat in it

How did chicken and bacon sneak into our salads? Like the dressing, we’re trying to add extra flavor, and we’re trying to put something nourishing into our far-from-perfect salad. (It should be noted that Plato in The Republic said the ideal city would be vegetarian one, because eating meat leads to decadence and war. I don’t know if eating meat leads to armed combat. But clearly, Plato put faith in his veggies.)

Let’s believe in our vegetables again. They do so much for us! We should repay the favor, by actually eating them.

Pretty darn close to perfection

If you were to invite a Saladmaster Cooking Coach to your house, I’m guessing he or she would be able to cut you a salad with the Saladmaster Food Processor that’s about as close to perfection as you would get. A variety of colorful fresh vegetables, cut right in front of you. It’s a hardy, nutritious meal that will keep you full—and really stands on it’s own without any dressing or a pork chop thrown in.

I imagine even Plato would agree. If perfection existed in salad form, it came from Saladmaster.


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