A sly foodie convinced upper class Americans not to ever wash their salad bowls. The idea was that the dressing would cure the wooden bowl over time and make better and better salads. The real result was a rancid, smelly bowl. The practice continued for thirty years.

Stinky Salad Bowls

From the 1930s through the ‘60s, Americans were convinced you had to have a certain kind of bowl to make a proper green salad: a plain, unvarnished wooden bowl which could never be washed. The idea was that the wood “cured” over the years, making ever more exquisite salads. Actually, the dressing seeped into the wood and the oil turned hideously rancid, so the bowls stank to high heaven.

A sly foodie named George Rector had simply hoaxed the whole country. He’d invented the myth of the wooden salad bowl to spice up a story in the Sept. 5, 1936, issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

Playing on Americans’ fear of snobbish French gourmets, he painted green salad as the most finicky dish of all. And the secret of the perfect salad? Rubbing a clove of garlic on a wooden bowl, which would give just enough garlic flavor but not (horrors!) too much . . . and then never washing the bowl.

The French themselves had never believed any such thing. In fact, Parisian gourmets didn’t even like garlic in their salads–as Rector knew perfectly well, since he’d worked in Parisian restaurants. In his cookbooks, he had published garlic-free French salad recipes. Continue Reading (1 minute read)

6 thoughts on “A sly foodie convinced upper class Americans not to ever wash their salad bowls. The idea was that the dressing would cure the wooden bowl over time and make better and better salads. The real result was a rancid, smelly bowl. The practice continued for thirty years.”

  1. Oatmealtime

    How did this fad last? It couldn’t have taken more then a month, let alone a year for anyone to realize their bowl is a rancid stinking mess.

  2. philos34002

    Dear god! My father-in-law had a big wooden salad bowl that he insisted be used only for caesar salad and never be washed. (Note to non-cooks: Caesar salad involves a raw egg as part of the dressing). Fortunately, my husband warned me whenever he was planning on adding that to the evening’s menu and I would get him distracted telling war stories while my husband washed and disinfected the bowl.

  3. SteveDaveMcFace

    Man I loathe the term “foodie”

  4. bf_princess

    Oh my god. My boyfriend’s mother bitched about me cleaning her wooden salad bowl last year because she said it would be seasoned (I think I actually commented on reddit last year about how ridiculous she was being). Holy cow that woman was finally wrong about something. I’m saving this post forever.

  5. Detroiteanca

    My parents had friends who did this up until the late 80s. The funny part is that my parents insist that their friend’s Caesar salad was the most delicious thing ever.

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