Archive for March, 2011

Lettuce Remember

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

My dad passed away last week.  As I look back on the many things we shared during our 50+ years together, eating salads is one of my favorites.

Of course, when I was younger that wasn’t the case.  Because Dad’s inner chef was a bit different, and kids are just not that big on different.  At home, I didn’t understand how he could possibly eat lettuce whose sole dressing consisted of Mazola corn oil and wine vinegar poured from the two thick glass cruets on our dinner table.  And at restaurants, I’d cringe when he’d order a salad and ask the waitress to mix together a couple of the (then maybe three) dressings on the menu, like French and Thousand Island.  Ewww.

I will admit that Dad had one thing right:  always toss the greens with the dressing before serving.  No on-the-side stuff for him.  He realized that mixing it all up was the only way to optimize the leaf-to-dressing ratio.  Of course, it worked better if everyone liked the same dressing. ;-)

Fast-forwarding to later in our lives, I picture the two of us gobbling down salads together during our Tuesday lunches at The Next Door Bistro in Northbrook (thank you, Barbara and Charlene). OK, it was me doing the most of the gobbling.  But Dad really did enjoy their house salad:  mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, Greek olives, asiago cheese, croutons and red onions, tossed perfectly in their house vinaigrette.  The salad was big enough for us to share, especially when accompanied by Next Door’s crusty,  freshly baked bread; we ate the garlic version only if we didn’t have a dental appointment within the next three days.  And at only $7.95, Dad was particularly pleased.

Dad liked to look around the restaurant while we ate.  He would comment on the other customers’ heaping plates of capellini tomato basil and rigatoni chicken bolognese.  For the two of us, though, the salad was just fine, thank you.

NJL