Old School House Salad
Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato Wedges, Cucumber
Red Onion, Radish, Italian Dressing
When I was contemplating the ingredients for my Old School House Salad, the kind my mom served in the 60s and early 70s, there could only be one type of lettuce, Iceberg. Nice and crisp Iceberg ✅. Apparently iceberg aka crisphead, shipped on ice, was the only variety of lettuce that traveled well via train across the country back then. Especially from California to Chicago…
Cucumber ✅ Red Onion ✅ Radish ✅. And when it came to tomatoes, we always had tomato wedges in our salad. But curiously enough, nary a cherry tomato in sight back then. Turns out, cherry tomatoes did not become ubiquitous until the 1980s. Our tomatoes were medium-sized, red, round, and tasty. Tomato Wedges ✅. And I do recall that my dad liked Peperoncini ✅.
Italian dressing came in a bottle, made by Wish-Bone. It sat in the center of the dinner table along with bottles of Thousand Island, French, and Russian so everyone could dress their own salad their way. No Ranch though, Ranch dressing didn’t become popular until the early 1990s. Hidden Valley Ranch was first marketed as an herb & spice packet to mix with mayonnaise and buttermilk at home. It wasn’t even sold as a bottled dressing until 1983.
Also absent from our house salad – carrots, celery, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, olives – and I don’t think we ever had an avocado in our Chicago home until the early 70s when we “discovered” Mexican food. We did eat a lot of black olives though, they were served on a relish tray, not in the salad.