The Salad That Eats Like a Cheeseburger
Some people wait all day for the cocktail hour. Others anticipate the moment when the kids are finally asleep. There are even some freakish people whose favorite moment of the day is early in the morning, just before the crack of dawn. Granted, some of those people are bakers. But not all bakers love the brutal hours of their craft.
Lunch has always been my favorite time of the day.
In elementary school it was brown-bagged lunches packed with love by a parent. In middle school it was primarily scoops of industrial foods on cardboard trays. In high school it was leaving campus, mostly for falafel. During college, lunch was where I got most of my daily calories from my five-meal weekly dining contract. When I was unemployed I got to make Italian sausage sandwiches almost daily for my mid-day meal.
However it was only after I exchanged my freedom for a job that lunch became a much bigger deal. While my colleagues were content to eat their lunches at their desks I made it a priority to get out of the office. I needed my own space. I needed fresh air and I needed some time to breathe it.
Yes, sometimes I had to work at my desk through lunch. And on those occasions, I would quickly dash out to the corner deli with a coworker or two and console myself with this perfect lunchtime meal.
In truth, it was more than a few years ago, and the specific details are lost. But it’s unlikely you are going to Max’s on California Street in San Francisco for lunch anyway. Not to mention that every sandwich and salad joint has something like this on the menu.
Usually when people get a salad they are ordering it in an effort to make a healthful choice. Sometimes the salads even fit the bill. A virtuous salad would include a mix of lettuces devoid of iceberg, with plenty of fresh vegetables, and very lightly tossed with extra virgin olive oil and a little vinegar. It would not include bacon, eggs, croutons, cheese, creamy dressings, olives, beans, nuts or seeds. You know, all the things it takes to make a salad actually delicious.
The saddest thing is when people do it wrong and order a salad for health, but end up with both something that they don’t really want that still isn’t really good for them.
In my mind it’s much better to treat yourself to a salad that is ridiculously delicious, and check all notions of healthy eating at the door.
Probably the only advantage to this is that it’s something that’s easy to eat at the desk, with one hand, and takes some of the pain out of working through what could be a delightful break in the drudgery of the day. Yes, I eat for comfort. It’s not so bad, just so long as you don’t need comfort every single day. Or if you do, I’d suggest juggling your vices so you are comforted by different things on different days (food on Monday, booze on Tuesday, pornography on Wednesday, television on Thursday, and drugs on Friday). I think they call that moderation.
Getting back to the point.
I’m not really a fan of salad. But I really enjoyed the hell out of my salads that ate like cheeseburgers. They were phantasmagorical creations that were more like breakfast in a bowl than any kind of salad. How else would you describe something that contains both bacon and eggs? But those were just the beginning, because bacon goes brilliantly with blue cheese crumbles. And if you are getting blue cheese crumbles, there is only one thing that could possibly tie the thing together – a rich and creamy blue cheese dressing.
You ever make croutons at home? Those bastards are scary things. You dry out bread, toss it in oil, and they effectively fry themselves from the inside out in the oven. What’s scary about them is just how much oil a tiny dried square of bread will actually absorb. If you enjoy the occasional crouton and think they can be a healthy addition to a salad, I encourage you to never try making them for yourself.
Croutons are delicious, and they played a starring role in this salad. As did a side slice of bread, spread lavishly with butter.
Now besides the bacon, the salad described thus far still doesn’t have any meat. And I know that bacon is officially pork, but in this case, regardless of how much actually goes into the salad it’s still a flavoring.
There are really only two choices of how to top this salad.
1) Fried chicken
2) Duck confit
Fried shrimp might be a good third choice, but they would be a wee bit too delicate to stand up to all the big flavors of the cheese and the bacon. Grilled chicken is better than nothing though, just to round it out.
Once I discovered these salads I also noticed a bit of a belly developing. But that just gave me added incentive to avoid eating at my desk. Because dammit, if I was going to eat at my desk, I was going to enjoy something extraordinary.