It was one of those moments, like when you look in the mirror and realize that a new mole has taken residence of your cheek. It snuck in without your noticing, and now you must grieve the passing of smooth skin that, until now, had greeted you every morning. You have a new look, and there is no going back. It was one of those moments.
We sat on the cool grass in the middle of small yard surrounded by dreadlocked, tie died, Frisbee carrying college kids. The crowd was peppered with the occasional grey bearded old mind that expanded too far in college and never quiet made it out of the drum circle, not even for long enough to get a fresh shirt and a bath. Christina and I were seeing a friend play in his band. We sat in the middle of the scene, wearing our beautiful X Factor jeans looking freshly groomed watching the people; every so often ducking filthy, slobbery tennis balls followed by the near pelting of a wet dog. Nobody talked to us and we made no effort to be friendly. We were like Ebenezer Scrooge, visiting our past, ghosts to all the people around us. Soon the bugs drove us from our spot and we were on our way home. We both agreed that outdoor “parties at the homestead” no longer fit in our closet and needed to go in the give away pile.
On the way home we stopped at a place called the “Alien Restaurant” hoping for some sort of adventure. Instead we were served with the predictable pre-formed hamburger patties with artificial grill marks, a light pink tomato slice, some long soggy white onions and a giant umbrella leaf of iceberg lettuce. The side salads were of the classic, all-American side salad variety- iceberg lettuce scattered vegetable pieces and a sprinkling of ready-boxed croutons complete with crumbs. I picked at my salad. “WHAT do you have against iceberg lettuce?” Christina boomed. “Why can’t WE have iceberg lettuce?” This is a reoccurring conversation topic for us. Somewhere along the line, while declaring my independence from the foods of my upbringing (which was during the peak of the salad bar age), I had decided that iceberg was a useless commodity. During my college years I subscribed to a farm crop share and explored new landscapes of mustard greens, arugula, red leaf and spinach. I decided never again would I turn back to the conventional, watery crunch of a flat plastic coated globe of iceberg. Of course, I didn’t think of all that at the time, I simply looked at Christina speechless. “I don’t know, it’s just….bland, or something”
Christina has a way of questioning everything, of pointing out belief systems and challenging them. She is really quite brilliant at it. So here I was, faced with the realization that I have been operating under a belief system based on a decision I made about 10 years ago. The decision, at the time, wasn’t about iceberg. It was about independence. Perhaps it has outlived its usefulness.
In making this salad, I noticed a few things about iceberg. Iceberg is like tofu, it takes on the flavor of whatever it happens to touch (which might explain why your side salads taste like a concoction of onions and dish soap). You can use this to your advantage. I plan to try some techniques out capitalizing on the chameleon qualities of iceberg in the future.
The dressing, whisk together:
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp sunflower oil
1 cooked egg yolk
1 small head iceberg lettuce, diced
1 green pepper, fillet out the whites, slice thin and dice
2 cups diced or shredded red cabbage
¼ diced red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced small
1-2 hard boiled eggs cut into pieces
Christina's vote "a good old fashioned salad"