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The Evolution Of Salad

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“Oh salad. How didst thee becometh so quite digestious.” – Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

Ah yes, even back in 1599, salads were being hailed as glorious meal options.

Ok, we’ll be real with you – that quote isn’t from Julius Caesar. But the love of salads back then and even further back to Roman times is real.

The word “salad” comes from the Latin phrase herba salata meaning salted greens, and it’s deliciously awesome how much the salad has evolved from that simple description.

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The Roman Start Up

During imperial Rome, ancient foodies garnished raw or cooked vegetables with fresh and dried herbs then topped them with vinegar and oil, which are still dressing staples today.

Now, the invention of the actual Caesar salad did not happen during the Roman Empire. We have to wait several centuries for that.

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Around The World

From Rome to the Middle East to Asia and circling back to the Americas and Europe, everyone started getting on the salad trend.

For example, Mary, Queen of Scots, ate boiled celery root over greens covered with creamy mustard dressing, truffles, chervil and slices of hard-boiled eggs. Sounds… interesting?

Other worldly examples?

Lebanon’s Fattoush Salad: Basically a bread salad with toasted or fried pieces of pita bread. Yum!

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Thailand’s Larb Salad: A spicy meat flavored salad with fish sauce, lime juice and herbs.

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France’s Salade niçoise: composed of tomatoes, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, and anchovies, dressed with a vinaigrette. Oh là, là!

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One Salad To Rule Them All

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Now, none of the salads mentioned above though have quite the iconic feel as… the Caesar.

There are several stories about how this salad came to be, who created it and why.

One tale says the salad was created on a busy weekend at Caesar’s Restaurant on July 4, 1924. Caesar (Cesare) Cardini Caesar – yup, a double Caesar name – was short on supplies and didn’t want to upset his customers, so he created this salad with what he had in stock. To add some flair, he prepared it tableside.

Another origination story has the salad being prepped for the first time in 1903 by Giacomo Junia, an Italian cook in Chicago.

Whoever created this salad? We thank you.

We're The Salads Of America

Along with Caesar, America has learned there are so many incredible salads to mix in a bowl.

Supermarkets to restaurants to fast food chains have added salads to the big menus… and suddenly the side salad jumped from the side dish to the main plate.

In present day, salads have claimed a spot on the foodie map - like Panera’s Mediterranean, Asian, and Greek salads.

Evolution-of-salad-setPhoto Credit: Panera

Salads have downright busted into a full-fledged foodie trend with vibrant flavors. And they still manage to stay a nutritious choice? Seriously, salads are a win-win for everyone!

The way main dishes capture people’s hearts, minds and stomachs – salads are dominating that realm too.

For my herb salata or Caesar salad classicists, you can kick it with a new trend like a Power Kale Caesar Salad with Chicken.

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For the foodies who need a LOT of flavors and texture? Gor for a Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa Salad.

mediterranean-chicken--quinoa-salad-whole.desktopPhoto Credit: Panera

And finally, for those who see food as a true work of art, there is the Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad.

panera-oh-you-fancy-saladPhoto Credit: Panera

Whether you’re in for an old-school herba salata or a newer nutritious creation, thanks to evolution and foodie love for salads – there’s plenty to go around. 

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