There is a notion rife in America that it is quite French and proper to tear salad greens with the fingers. This method is presumably all right, but much better to some minds is to cut the greens to the desired size, shape, or length with a sharp knife. Tearing greens, with the exception of iceberg lettuce, tends to bruise them.
Iceberg lettuce is by far the commonest, most durable salad green in America and it is also the least interesting. The best salad greens include home-grown garden salads; watercress, available in many a mountain stream and riverbed; limestone or Bibb, Romaine, or Boston lettuce; snow-white endive, most of which is imported from Belgium; escarole, and curly endive or chicory.
Most salad greens should be rinsed in cold water after they are prepared for the salad bowl, then shaken or blotted with paper toweling to remove excess moisture. An inexpensive wire salad basket is ideal for shaking moisture out of wet salad greens. Prepared salad greens may be wrapped in plastic and chilled to crisp them for ½ hour or so before using.
© 1969 Craig Claiborne estate. All rights reserved.