Salads & life

A short time ago, I was getting ready to have a leftovers salad lunch today – but gradually, I’m realising that this truly is a day where the “,&” of this blog title comes to life: it’s not just making a salad interesting – there are life lessons in there, too.

It’s all in the balance of sweet and sour – Jamie is teaching the principles of making a good salad dressing (two thirds oil to one third vinegary).  Enthusiastically, I got a jam jar and threw in some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a half teaspoonful of my favourite mustard and a dollop of honey.  It was delicious.

Throw in the kitchen sink – From my mother, I learnt an important principle of interesting salads: throw in as many different fruits and veg as you can.  She got compliments from people who usually ate in very expensive restaurants – because she casually threw in orange segments, celery, bits of cheese, nuts, chopped peppers, any leftover roast meats… which may not sound so startling now, but she was doing this back in 1970s Britain when a salad was a bit of limp lettuce, a tomato segment and a few half-moons of cucumber with a hardboiled egg,  in many homes.

Where are the life lessons?

Sweet and vinegary

  • we can have things too sweet.  Getting a balance which gives our taste buds something to shout about is key.  It’s the principle you see in house interiors: everything mixy matchy neutrals in flat fabrics – yawn.  Throw in a few vibrant patterned cushions or one enormous lampshade in a dull, rich colour, and the whole room begins to sing.

Throw in the kitchen sink

  • variety IS the spice of life. Same old, same old becomes a yawnfest, and you feel less alive.  Some folks – often creatives – actually crave new impetus.  That can be as simple as seeing a new exhibition, or putting together a playlist of brand new music – and suddenly you’ve got a zestfest.
  • Accompaniments – I decided to have some herbal tea with the salad, found an almost-forgotten peppermint tea – and it added extra!  It was as if I’d torn up mint leaves into the salad, I guess.

Let each ingredient have its place

  • I heard it advised that in pulling together different communities to heal rifts or historical differences, it was best not to look at the product as a casserole, where all the individual ingredients lost their own identity – but rather as a salad, where you can taste a delightful whole, but also see and taste the separate ingredients and what they are contributing

Creative Takeaways

When you make something and it’s wellmade but – well, boring, try throwing in something unexpected: a different splash of colour, an unexpected material, some words which are sharper or more urgent, have a wild character gatecrash a setpiece drama, reheat a boring soup and curry the life out of it….

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