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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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salad a term derived from the Latin sal (salt), which yielded the form salata, ‘salted things’ such as the raw vegetables eaten in classical times with a dressing of oil, vinegar, or salt. The word turns up in Old French as salade and then in late 14th-century English as salad or sallet. At that time, in the medieval period, salads were composed of green leaves, sometimes with flowers. The 14th-century English recipe manuscript the Forme of Cury is quite clear on the specifics of a ‘salat’: several sorts of herbs, chives, green garlic, and onions, all washed and dressed with oil, vinegar, and salt. Later, at least in England, fruits such as orange and lemon were added (at least in a decorative role), and the 17th century was the era of what was called the grand sallet, which could have a multitude of ingredients. Thus Robert may (1685), in the first of no fewer than fourteen grand sallet recipes, instructs as follows:

Take a cold roast capon and cut it into thin slices square and small (or any other roast meat …), mingle with it a little minced taragon and an onion, then mince littice as small as the capon, mingle all together, and lay it in the middle of a clean scoured dish. Then lay capers by themselves, olives by themselves, samphire by it self, broom buds, pickled mushrooms, pickled oysters, lemon, orange, raisins, almonds, blue-fits, Virginia Potato, caperons, crucifix pease, and the like, more or less, as occasion serves, lay them by themselves in the dish round the meat in partitions. Then garnish the dish sides with quarters of oranges, or lemons, or in slices, oyl and vinegar beaten together, poured on it over all.