Book Review: Salads: Beyond The Bowl

Salads:  Beyond The Bowl:  Extraordinary Recipes For Everyday Eating, by Mindy Fox

It should come as little surprise that as someone who frequently eats salads that I should read and write about them fairly often as well [1].  When I started reading this book while awaiting a banquet before which I would speak, my fondness for reading a cookbook about salads drew a great deal of interest and critique.  I’m not sure why people would think it odd that I would want to read about food, especially as salads present themselves as a healthy sort of food that can be tasty in the hands of someone sufficiently creative like myself.  And yet I find that my fondness for salads does tend to draw a great deal of interest and sometimes perhaps even a bit of suspicion that something is quite unusual about me that I would read about salads.  At any rate, I don’t feel any need to apologize about it.  If you like eating salads and enjoy making them frequently and buying them even more frequently, you should not object to someone reading about them.  In addition to this, unlike some books about salads, this one actually has quite a few odd salads I would be very willing to try.

In terms of its size, this book at slightly less than 200 pages and full of pictures is not a difficult one for anyone to read.  More difficult will be identifying the various ingredients listed and where one can find them, although the author (a New Yorker, in case it is not already obvious from her hipster tastes) gives some comments on how these ingredients may be sourced at the end of the book.  In terms of its structure, the book is divided into several chapters, with elemental salads, leaf salads, eggs, potatoes, and pasta, beans, grains, and legumes, fish, poultry and game, and meat making up the seven different types of salad included here.  Many of the ingredients included are highly exotic and not likely to be found in many places, but in general one can say that the ideas for the salad allow for at least some flexibility for those who are willing to experiment with the combinations of materials available to them and within their dietary constraints.  By and large, I did not think that this author was trying to kill me with her salad recipes and there were some I am pretty interested in trying, like:  freekeh salad with fava beans, grilled asparagus, and roasted lemon; potato and snap pea salad with garlic and parsley-lemon pesto, a no mayo purple potato salad with scallions, tarragon, and basil; shaved brussels sprouts, olive oil, lemon, and peppered sheep’s milk cheese, and roast sharmoula chicken, cauliflower, and arugula among them.

While this book is certainly not a flawless one, it certainly is a good one.  Readers who do not mind the author being unusually specific and unusually obscure in her taste of cheeses and fruits and vegetables will likely find much to enjoy and appreciate here.  The author shows a fondness for vinegar and sea salt and pepper, and clearly knows that salads are supposed to have vegetables and/or fruits involved.  There are, thankfully, no embarrassing attempts at molded salads here.  Likewise, despite her obscure tastes, the author can be praised for not trying to make every salad one that betrays the ideals of those who enjoy vegetables for their own sake.  So either this book can be praised for what it is not, and that is a shallow attempt to make salads appealing to those who do not like salads, which makes sense given this book is written by and for hipsters who are familiar with and fond of particularly obscure vegetables.  If you are that sort of person, you likely know it already.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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