When I was a kid I thought there were two types of salad dressing, Ranch and Zesty Italian, and only one variety of lettuce: iceberg. I remember the first time my mom brought home a head of romaine (when Caesar salads made a comeback in the ’90s) and being blown the f–k away. What was this exotic, dark leafy green? From there on in, iceberg lettuce was dead to me. And never mind romaine when there’s arugula, spinach and kale to be had.
I wonder if the demise of iceberg lettuce was all Alice Waters’ fault: it was Chez Panisse that popularized mesclun mix to such a degree that today you can spot those clear clamshell packages stuffed with lifeless and limp varieties of greens in every grocery store.
When’s the last time you sliced a head of iceberg lettuce into cool and crispy wedges and drizzled it with a creamy dressing? 1980? ME TOO! I don’t care how gauche it is: I’ve found myself longing for it lately. Maybe it’s only nostalgia, but the crunch makes it ideal for lunchtime salads—like the one I brought today with edamame, sweet corn, and a chopped up field tomato (added to the mix at room temperature, of course) all tossed in a parsley and garlic white wine vinaigrette (I make a week’s worth in a food processor.)
I believe I may have heard a colleague snicker at my lunch’s iceberg lettuce component, but no matter: I predict it’s going to make a comeback, along with hot dogs, chopped salads and jellied moulds. Just you wait and see.