The term one’s “‘salad days'” refers to when one is young and inexperienced. I used to love cooking for my parents once I got in college. I was never more than footsteps from them. First, I went to an excellent community college and then I went to SMU which is still in the city. My mother seriously used to make every meal from scratch until the day I was graduated from high school. I can still see our tiny, windowless apartment kitchen where I spent the majority of my childhood. She always had a cloth calendar hanging on the wall and an apron around her waist. She made the best meatloaf and stuffed bell peppers in the entire world. I STILL cannot believe I got upset because the other kids got the cool, new “TV dinners” while my mother was making every meal by hand. We did not even own a microwave until I was graduated from high school and I will never forget the fateful night I asked her what was for dinner. “Whatever goes ‘beep beep beep'” was her reply. How COULD she?! Well, I was seventeen and she had been making dinners at least five days a week for Daddy and me for all those years. The adult mother in me not only does not blame her; she marvels at her. The youth in me was hurt and outraged. It was then that I began cooking for them. My father taught me his grilling techniques and I found I loved having them over for dinner. When I got married I felt like I was starting all over. My cooking was being compared/contrasted with someone else’s, including staff that worked for my husband’s parents. Then we were fortunate enough to have a child and it added her opinion into the mix. Something as simple as a SALAD became a big deal. Somebody didn’t like this; somebody was “freaked out” by the texture of that. FINALLY I settled our family of three upon Romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, heirloom tomatoes, and a celebrity’s olive oil and vinegar dressing. Everything is organic and all of the profits of the salad dressing go toward charity. Heaven help I am TRYING to add more ingredients! The Ethiopian-born Swedish-raised chef Marcus Samuelsson said:
“Salad can get a bad rap. People think of bland and watery iceberg lettuce, but in fact, salads are an art form, from the simplest rendition to a colorful kitchen-sink approach.”
I agree. I would like to add SO many more ingredients! Avocado, onion, Mandarin oranges, pecans, chickpeas, spinach, black olives, sunflower seeds, jalapeños, and so much more. For now I guess I shall content myself with the simple salad days.