What Is A Salad? An Existential Debate Re-Ignited By The Kardashians

The recent launch of Kourtney Kardashian's Goop-esque new lifestyle website, Poosh, has already blessed us with many things: wine recommendations from a member of a notoriously teetotaling family, instructions on how to obtain an "instant butt lift," and further evidence that made-up names with two O's in the middle are infinitely more bankable than other kinds of words. But the very best thing Poosh has given us is the heated debate that's currently raging on Twitter and elsewhere as to whether or not Kardashian's "signature salad" recipe is actually a salad or, well, just a random collection of foods.
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I'll tell you right now, I'm no salad expert — I do find myself eating the "sad desk" version for lunch pretty damn often, but that fact has proven unhelpful here. This salad debate has sparked something in me, though — call it a quarter life crisis-inspired need to answer as best I can some big, existential questions. Like: What is a salad? What isn't a salad? What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of Poosh? What "is" "is"? Do you know what I mean?
The "salad," if it can in fact be called that, is comprised of the following items: "2 hard-boiled eggs (quartered), 1/2 avocado (sliced), 1 hothouse tomato, 2 fresh mozzarella balls, olive oil, sea salt, pepper." According to the post, it takes just 15 minutes to prepare and will keep you full throughout the day. That last part is certainly debatable, but it's not the primary thing the internet has taken umbrage with. As previously noted, that would be its status as a salad.
As The Washington Post reports, criticism of the dish includes the assertion that it is "just foods on a plate" and "worse than a Starbucks protein box." Which, ouch, because those things are just extremely mediocre. Writer Maura Judkis seems to be of the opinion that it is a salad, just not a very good one. "I mean, the definition of salad is pretty broad. Is Jell-O salad a salad? What about tuna salad, which is more of a spread? Macaroni salad? Ambrosia? Couldn’t poutine technically be a salad?" she writes. I don't know about you, but my mind currently resembles that one Eric Wareheim GIF. And yet my curiosity is not entirely sated.
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In this quest to wade into the philosophical deep end via vaguely controversial internet-famous recipes, I've polled a few people who really know their stuff when it comes to salad. Here's what they had to say on the matter.
"I am so glad to hear that people are debating the true nature of salad. This will keep your office busy and out of trouble for weeks, possibly years. It used to be that a 'salad' in America was pretty simple — chicken, or maybe lobster, some greenery, some kind of dressing. Around the turn of the 20th century, though, all the boundaries disappeared and salads ran wild. Basically if you could serve it on a lettuce leaf, it was a salad — a square of frozen cream cheese, a hollowed-out turnip filled with marinated peas, some cut-up bananas and nuts packed into a banana skin, and — one of my favourites in this genre — a fruit salad inside a little pen made of four saltines, and you tied a red ribbon around the whole thing. There was a lot of scope for imagination. So I would say that if the avocado-egg thing appeared on a lettuce leaf, it would be very difficult in a court of culinary law to deny it the name of salad."
Caroline Calloway, Writer, Influencer & Known Salad Lover
"Is this a salad? Yes. Would I eat it? No. Would I serve it to my enemies to taunt them as I ate a normal salad full of leafy greens and Parmesan crisps and more than two table spoons of olive oil across from them on my floor? Maybe. Why are haters in my house? Seems unsafe. What’s for sure is this: Kourtney's ratio of hard boiled egg to mozzarella is all off. The correct amount of hard boiled egg being NEVER and the correct amount of mozzarella being WHEN WILL A CELEBRITY CREATE A LIFESTYLE BRAND THAT IS JUST MOZZARELLA. Excuse me, I see an opening in the market. I have to go."
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Alison Roman, Chef, Author of Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes
"I think anything can be a salad if you try hard enough. I am not one of those people who thinks it has to have lettuce or greens to be a salad. This is essentially a Caprese salad with avocado and eggs? Aside from it not sounding very interesting (everything is soft!! Needs texture!), I think in my opinion it can be called a salad."
Nicole Pavlovsky, Recipe Developer, Blogger, Author of Dinner Salad Cookbook
"Kourtney Kardashian's 'salad' is FOR SURE a salad. The definition of salad is extremely broad. A salad is basically any combination of ingredients that includes fruit and/or vegetables mixed or stacked together with other ingredients such as proteins, grains, starches, cheeses, and/or dressings.
A SAD salad is iceberg devil lettuce with bottled processed ranch dressing and a couple cherry tomatoes with bagged shredded cheese.
When I wrote my cookbook, I wanted to hone in that concept that salads are broad and can be incorporated into everyone's daily diet for a healthier lifestyle. The beauty of salads is that there's a lot of options of mixing and matching, which also makes it easier to meal plan."
"In my opinion (because I do ultimately believe the salad exists in the eye of the beholder), for a dish to be a legitimate salad, the total must be greater than the sum of its parts. Meaning, by virtue of presenting an intentional group of disparate ingredients together (yes, most often in the presence of some unifying dressing), they should create a new and unique flavour/texture experience, one that reframes and enhances the ingredients themselves. While Kourtney might be riffing on a composed salad, I would concur that these ingredients don't harmonize, or play off one another in any sort of 'salady' manner that I recognize."
Just Salad, National Salad Chain
"We stand with Kourtney on this one, it is indeed a salad. It's very similar to our Keto Salad, which features hard-boiled egg, avocado, grilled chicken, pickled red onion, roasted almond and pepper jack. Now let's move on!"
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