The rise of the hipster salad.
Fri, 28 October, 2016
A big change on the salad scene in recent times. No more Niçoise or chicken salad, not even many prawn or crayfish mixes in sight. You won’t find a potato salad easily and even pastas are being pushed down the supermarket shelves and off the menus. What we have instead is the rise of the hipster salad.
I like to use the word with a mildly derogatory, deeply sarcastic flavour and I’m fully aware I might soon sound like the over-thirties in 1970s who were not Vivienne Westwood, talking about ‘punks’. I guess I’ll accept the responsibility of being a boring middle-aged git hurling mild abuse at the lifestyle they don’t understand. What I don’t understand most of all though is that it’s such a dull, self-righteous, up-own-backside lifestyle which involves ingesting things that taste like sawdust or grass cuttings, without even any mind-altering effects (just saying).
Let’s take those salads for one thing: all of them contain one of or all of the following: edamame, avocado, quinoa and kale. Now as much as I have nothing against avocado, it just isn’t one of nature’s flavoursome fruits. Edamame are all right, firmly in their rightful place boiled in the shells at Wagamama’s, to be snacked on nonchalantly while you wait for your noodles. But sticking them into every single salad regardless of other content is just overkill. The other two suspects, quinoa and kale, are simply, in my view, inedible. I keep trying to give them a chance but every time it turns out bleurgh, bleurgh, BLEURGH. A bit like with English sausages: naah, this ain’t meat.
I’ve recently had a decent steak in a restaurant accompanied by coleslaw as my side of choice - coleslaw made with kale. Wrong on so many levels I couldn’t even start to list them; all right once I picked out all the kale shreddings.
The problem with those quinoas, amaranth, kale and chia is a/ they taste like crap and b/ have no proven health benefits to outweigh the nasty flavours. Why should you want to eat something as vile as quinoa, deluding yourself it does you good? Beats me.
Some suggestions of proper salads, so no one can say I’m just knocking stuff without giving constructive alternatives. When in season, eat raw asparagus, shaved or shredded, dressed just with a bit of lemon juice.
For something more substantial, go for crispy chickpeas and mix them with just about anything veg. Or couscous classic style, with or without meat is lovely and versatile.
Do the bacon and cucumber combo for a warm salad; it can be mixed with just about any filler should you need to bulk it out. Caesar is my favourite classic and so often frowned on disdainfully - nothing better when properly made. For a stylish fishy-sushi dish, make a poke - so good.
And if you fancy making coleslaw, please: DO NOT ADD KALE.