Okay, in a few months I am to be married and part of the marriage agreement between my incipient bride and myself involves the exchange of names. The deal is as follows: If, by our wedding day, my abdomen takes the shape commonly euphemized as a six-pack my fiancée will then take my name, at least personally, though not necessarily professionally. If not, she will emerge from matrimony with her name unscathed, unhyphenated, and unchanged professionally or personally. Now, as time grows nearer I must do something that few men at my youthful age concern themselves with trim up. That being said, I decided the best route to go was that of the interesting salad as well as soups for lunch. Im really not a salad eater. As a native Midwesterner (and a Mexican one to boot) I feel that salad isnt your dinner, its what your dinner eats. I often eat them prior to an actual meal, but seldom consider them the main event. In the interest of spreading my name I am willing to sacrifice the piles of basil fried rice and lunches showcasing pastrami juice coursing down my chin otherwise prevalent during my lunch hour.
Now, Im looking for salads for non-salad eaters. A salad eater, near as I can gather from my anthropological studies - at a safe distance - of these strange creatures, will eat a boring salad and think nothing of the fact that the boring-ass Souper Salad creation in their bellies is, in fact, that most grievous of chowhound sins, a wasted meal. Assemblages of a few scraps of iceberg and carrot shreds do not interest me nor should they interest anyone if the world was right. And a few cherry tomatoes do not redeem it. Instead, Im looking for more salads like the following two, deemed palatable and tasty by those of us typically disinclined towards such things:
Taquena Salad from Herreras burritos: Mixed greens, black beans, roasted corn, lots of salsa, scallions, peppers, tortilla strips. Herreras has a fine selection of dressing choices as well such as a salsa vinaigrette, creamy cilantro and chipotle ranch (though perhaps not all very healthy dressings, but I must crawl before I walk). The salad is hearty and can have a nice spice, depending on your dressing.
Nam Vangs Goi Tom Thit Pork and Shrimp salad. Fantastic. Shrimp is sliced on edge (the way they do in the deli spring rolls at the Binh Market to either fool you into thinking theres more of them, or to lend more flavor, cant decide) and the pork is cold pork, FYI. It comes with piles of shredded cabbage (good for the colon) and lots of mint. The dressing whatever it is picks up a lot of the mint and carries some other strange sweetness. Its topped off with piles of crushed peanuts. The cold pork went with the sweet salad surprisingly well, sort of like apple and pork loin or ham with pineapples, the whole combo flirts with Alsatian cuisine, like a cold Choucroute almost.
I also mean to try the Goi Tom Hoac Tom Thit next door at the Nam A as I think Id prefer cold chicken to cold pork so well see. I also found a few soups that I think fit my fit bill rather well. China Pearl does a tasty watercress and pork soup (no noodles) that I could probably eat at least once a week without risking disenchantment. Now what about other salads around downtown and Chinatown? Any good nicoise salads maybe? What about Caesar salads that actually throw in the anchovies? Note that Im not looking for a light salad. More to the point, Im looking for a salad that is lighter than a pile of fried rice so a judicious inclusion of cheese and/or meat is acceptable. So please, help me save my name from utter extinction.