«

»

Jan 22 2006

Open Letter To Chefs Ordering Salad Greens For Their Supposedly Upscale Restaurants

frisee
It is not generally known, but frisée is grown on Mars, and causes existential crises in laboratory mice

Quit putting this unholy crap in my salad.

It isn’t just me. Nobody likes it.

(I look forward to the flurry of comments unified by the theme “I Adore Frisée You Barn-bred Cretin”)

64 comments

2 pings

  1. CafeSiren

    Thank you, Twisty — I thought I was the only one who hated this crap. I never even bothered to learn its proper name (always thought it was “curly endive”). It looks pretty, but that’s about all it has going for it.

    Mâche, on the other hand, is just awsome.

  2. Amber

    I like it, so long as it’s torn into bite-sized pieces.

  3. Hattie

    Try drenching it in ranch dressing.

  4. Hank

    I’ve been hating the lawn-clippings-as-salad movement for years. Thank you for writing giving voice to my pain.

  5. Liz

    God, I hate that stuff. It should have been sprayed with Round-Up while it was still in the yard.

  6. Jeanne

    Thank God you spoke up for us. I’d just as soon eat the hair caught in the shower drain.

  7. sunny in texas

    the most amazing thing happened when i was eating out at a tres chi-chi restaurant with a date. i had an asthma attack while eating the fecking SALAD!

    i no longer eat greens i can’t identify.

  8. Betsy

    I know! It’s bitter and has an unpleasant texture. I wholeheartedly concur with your assessment.

  9. Bella

    Amen. That stuff is awful to bite into. If it must be included, it should at least be on the outskirts of the plate where it can be ignored.

  10. SF Knitter

    agreed

  11. robin

    Twisty,
    this stuff should indeed be banned.
    Another salad trend I hate is the soggy pestilence of “spring mix”.
    I have been served many a salad lately which consisted solely of a sodden mass of so-called spring mix. You know the chef just reached in a hand, grabbed a clod of the same stuff which is sold by the trough at most grocery stores these days, and just plopped it on a plate along with some so-so dressing.
    It makes me long for a nice salad of pure butter lettuce with a couple of sliced radishes and a decent vinaigrette.
    A nice old fashioned non-congealing salad.

  12. Burrow

    then they’re getting bad spring mix, cuz mine is always rather nice (and organic and local)

  13. Chris Clarke

    Some of my best friends are barn-bred cretins.

    But Twisty. Twisty, Twisty, Twisty. You of all people should know that there are certain vegetables are almost always inedible when eaten at restaurants, and yet ambrosial when harvested out of the yard (or off of Amanda’s balcony) and eaten within a day. Nota bene the tomato.

  14. belledame222

    Lettuce should be crisp, juicy, and not bitter. I’d rather eat iceberg than some of the gnarlier “gourmet” greens I’ve been offered in restaurants.

  15. norbizness

    I’ve only seen that shit lining Easter baskets.

  16. Chris Clarke

    Lettuce should be crisp, juicy, and not bitter.

    Hey, more radicchio and arugula for me. I like it when people hate cilantro too.

  17. Amanda Marcotte

    (or off of Amanda’s balcony)

    I just had the same weird feeling I get when some suggests that I’m probably awesome in bed without knowing firsthand. ;) We’ll see if I can grow veggies in containers this year–a brand new world, blah blah.

    Actually, thanks for the vote of confidence.

    Also, my teeth itch looking at that picture. And since I spent so many years in braces, I do not gappy teeth that lettuce can get into. Nope, just that evil shit.

    On my vacation, I ate at an excellent restaurant (here’s the chef’s blog) and he served the best salad I do believe I’ve ever eaten–grilled radicchio with a little Caesar on the side. The entire meal kicked ass, and was clever without being irritating, but holy shit that grilled radicchio was awesome.

  18. john patrick

    I just wanted to drop you a note saying that a) I also hate frisee,and 2) I also blame the patriarchy. So I’d like to link to this post, if you don’t mind.

    Also, iceburg lettuce salad is the punchline of a culinary joke to me. There are so many nice lettuces out there; same the iceburg for your hamburgers and your gringo-riffic hard-shell tacos.

    Here’s where I’ll lose readers: Chopsticks are sixty or seventy times superior in terms of salad-eating untensil technology than a salad fork. Seriously.

  19. Mandos

    I actually like that stuff.

    *cue chorus*

  20. Mandos

    And hating cilantro? I mean, come on. I guess you dislike Thai food, and you’ve never eaten home-cooked Indian food.

  21. Kaka Mak

    Frisee = Salad fuckery.

    (And if it WAS endive, I could say Endive = Jive.)

  22. Twisty

    Chris Clarke: “But Twisty. Twisty, Twisty, Twisty. You of all people should know that there are certain vegetables are almost always inedible when eaten at restaurants, and yet ambrosial when harvested out of the yard (or off of Amanda’s balcony) and eaten within a day.”

    Don’t listen to him! He worships anything green that’s covered in dirt!

    And I might have known Mandos Mandos Mandos would be a frisée booster.

  23. Charles

    This little blog entry made my day. I thought I was the only one who hated that bitter yucky stuff. I always pick it out and was embarrassed to have it lining the edge of my salad dish when the service people picked it up.

  24. Ms Kate

    I’d take a handfull of frisee over a bowl movement of iceberg ANYTIME.

    Best of all: a salad with that stuff AND a bunch of other things I can’t name.

    Meanwhile, the oakleaf lettuce in my packet of greens I planted last spring seems to have outcompeted everything in its bed, including Boston winter and snow. This is despite it being the only green thing that my younger lad will eat, and has been eating straight out of the garden.

    Personally, I think the stupidest thing ever put in a food was (drumroll please) GOLD!

  25. Mandos

    Gold? Are you talking about Indian sweets? Because sometimes they are eaten with a micrometer thin sheet of beaten gold or silver, particularly on holidays and at weddings. No joke.

  26. Chris Clarke

    Don’t listen to him! He worships anything green that’s covered in dirt!

    Hey, I said that guacamole story was for your ears only.

  27. Ron Sullivan

    OK, I like the stuff, though it definitely cries out for hot bacon dressing. I mean I used to like the stuff. I probably will again, once I get the goddamn braces off. Till then I’ll have to drink the bacon dressing neat, I guess.

  28. Chris Clarke

    And hating cilantro? I mean, come on. I guess you dislike Thai food, and you’ve never eaten home-cooked Indian food.

    1) I love cilantro. I will refrain from twitting about reading for comprehension on the chance that your “you” was meant as an airy and colloquial synonym for “one.”
    2) There is a huge amount of Thai food that can be eaten by confirmed cilantrophobes, and I say this as one who is wedded to a Thai-food-loving confirmed cilantrophobe.
    3) Indian foood: Yes, but not as much as I’d like.
    4) Mandos, Mandos, Mandos.

  29. metamanda

    john patrick, I totally agree on the chopsticks. It’s impossible to stick a fork through those leaves.

    um… so where do you even learn the names of all those amorphous salad greens?

  30. Bomboniera

    I respectfully disagree with your assessment of frisee, but I love the post regardless. Hilarious. :)

  31. thebewilderness

    You learn their names from the seed catalog or the nursery seed rack.

  32. Mandos

    How do you say,

    “I like it when people hate cilantro too.”

    and not hate cilantro? How you like it when someone else hates something without hating that thing too?

  33. Lisa

    “Hey, more radicchio and arugula for me. I like it when people hate cilantro too.”

    See, what he was saying is that he likes it when other people don’t like it when people don’t like radicchio and arugula, because that leaves more for Chris. He also likes it when people hate cilantro, so then that leaves more for Chris, too.

    I thought it was pretty clear.

    Oh, er…. Mandos, Mandos, Mandos.

  34. Lisa

    Crap. Now let me repost that after proofing:

    “Hey, more radicchio and arugula for me. I like it when people hate cilantro too.”

    See, what he was saying is that he likes it when other people don’t like radicchio and arugula, because that leaves more for Chris. He also likes it when people hate cilantro, so then that leaves more for Chris, too.

    I thought it was pretty clear.

    Oh, er…. Mandos, Mandos, Mandos.

  35. belledame222

    Waitaminute, I love cilantro, too. You can’t have my cilantro.

  36. ripley

    I’m a fan of it. I like bitter greens. Not all bitter greens all the time, but frisee is pretty mild. Bitters stimulate the digestive enzymes, so they’re good for you to eat before the rest of your meal… But health reasons aside, I just like it. It’s good combined with smoother and creamier flavors.

    It’s also way better than iceberg, which is a crime against humanity

  37. Twisty

    I can’t believe you guys are arguing about cilantro. This is a lettuce-blaming post!

  38. Chris Clarke

    Mandos, Mandos, Mandos. Lisa is correct. Imagine the following scenario:

    1) I am eating a nice steaming bowl of pho tai nam with my cilantro-hating cohort.
    2) She is served a similar item, and the server did not understand her request for no cilantro.
    3) She grumbles and laboriously picks out every shred of cilantro from her pho tai nam with a pair of chopsticks, and puts them on a small plate.
    4) I dump the cilantro into my soup, thus obtaining pho tai nam with extra cilantro without having to go to the trouble and fuss of actually asking for extra cilantro.

  39. kathy a

    lettuce all get along. but not toss the greens:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2006/01/23/national/a093516S46.DTL

  40. Mandos

    I’m a cilantro socialist, though. I believe in sharing the beauty of the cilantro taste…and forcibly making other people enjoy it! You WILL ENJOY CILANTRO. YOU WILL!!!

  41. Anne

    I am moved to de-lurk to say: fuckin’ A! (about the tasteless, hard-to-eat-gracefully, nutritionless, phony-gourmet alien-tentacle frisee) I’ve been making my dinner companions roll their eyes over this issue for several years now.

    But cilantro, that’s a different story. Apparently the sharp divergence of views here is explained by a genetic trait that makes it taste like soap to some people, but like deliciousness to others. So peace, my sisters and brothers; the cosmos has seen fit to divide us along these lines to serve some larger purpose.

    Whereas the pro-frisee position is just indefensible.

  42. Maggie

    I had an apendectomy in the south of France. I was on vacation. I left the hospital starved for fresh vegetables, so we went to a restaurant at the airport on our way back to the UK. I ordered a big salad. It was comprised entirely of nasty frisee and one tiny piece of tomatoe. I cried right there at the table. Then we got on a plane and I cried a bit more. I hate that stuff.

  43. Chris Clarke

    I can’t believe you guys are arguing about cilantro. This is a lettuce-blaming post!

    Which means talking about cilantro would be raddichiolus.

  44. agent em

    I totally hate this shit. Why do they use it? Is it cheaper than using edible greens? I’m not ashamed to pick it out of my salad and leave it, dripping, on the fancy tablecloth where it belongs. I hate cilantro too.

  45. nina

    Oh god, not the puns. Quick, somebody distract Chris by talking about the Mojave or something.

    And Twisty, I don’t know if it’s the wacky tabaccy, or the chemo, or being bald, but your posts are just getting better and better.

  46. bitchphd

    Pass all the frisee and cilantro on over here, please. And the chopsticks.

  47. Violet Socks

    Re forks vs. chopsticks: I eat everything with a spoon, including salad.

  48. Ezra

    i like frisee. provided it’s with dressing, that is.

  49. CafeSiren

    “…cries out for hot bacon dressing…”

    I’d like to take a moment to blame salad dressings. Ever gone down the grocery aisle where they’re at? Too many! Ack! I remember something called “bacon ranch” from my late adolescence. Gross.

    And what’s the deal with almost all restaurant salads (except the execrable iceberg-based “side salad”) featuring hunks of chicken? If I wanted chicken, I’d order it. I want a salad.

    (/rant)

  50. Ms Kate

    I don’t mean the little bits of gold in Indian candy – I mean the gold-sprinkled desserts that popped up at the end of the dot-com boom, perilously close to the millenium!

    Made me think the end of the world might actually be coming as promised by the guy with the boiled face at the Park Street T stop!

  51. Chris Clarke

    What’s the matterm Nina, afraid the thread will take an endive?

  52. Pinko Punko

    Uh, cilantro tastes like soap to some people. If it tasted like soap to you, you wouldn’t like it either. It’s genetic. Also, with spicy food, you are not a “wuss” if you can’t handle it, odds are it tastes much spicier to some people because they taste things a lot better than Mr. I Love Spicy Food who probably has one crappy taste bud. The other weird thing is that it USED to taste like soap to me, but now it doesn’t and I love it. Also, I used to hate Dr. Pepper and I love it now, but it doesn’t taste the same as it used to, it tastes much milder. I think I have lost taste buds. *sigh* I also hate that stinging nettle salad frisee bullsh*t. Did this comment ramble enough to kill the thread? I’m so tired.

  53. Twisty

    Thanks, Pinko. 53 comments on salad is quite enough for one day.

  54. Sara

    Yeah, sorry, but I do like it, among many other greens (yes, including spring mix, as long as it’s fresh), but I agree with Amber; it needs to be cut small. Otherwise, it doesn’t fit in my mouth, and no one wants to eat in a room where s/he can see a woman with a tumbleweed sticking half out of her mouth while she chews. Of course, that is why most restaurants provide knives for their patrons. But also, I don’t think cooks should be putting fist-sized clumps of frisée into salads. That’s just lazy — and unattractive.

    Sort of a non sequitur, a follow-on to the passionate discussion of non-lettuce bitter greens above…

    For those who enjoy them at all, and even sometimes surprisingly for people who think they don’t, bitter greens, including arugula and so-called “herb salad,” are also lovely when used to deglaze a pan wherein you have just seared a salmon or tuna steak in olive oil, garlic, and maybe a splash of lemon or white wine. After removing the fish, you just fill to the point of heaping fullness the still oily, warm, and maybe a tad crusty pan with ever-so-slightly damp greens of your choice (and widely ribboned collards work just fine for this, as do whole leaves of chard, spinach and lacinato or “dinosaur” kale; doesn’t have to be bitter or tough stuff at all), cover it, and cook until the greens are just wilted, then use a spatula to scrape up any crustiness and toss it into the greens and then toss the greens into the sauce that will have formed on the bottom from the leaf water mixed with the fish/oil/garlic drippings. (Do not overcook or it will be gross. Just barely wilt the greens.) Place it on the plate, but fluff it if you can, don’t just clump it on. Serve warm with, on or under, the fish, with a couple of turns of the peppermill for picquant garnish.

    Sorry. I know you’re not interested, Twisty. You could wrap the whole thing in warm corn tortillas with some fresh tomato or tomatillo salsa, though, and then you might be very interested. Or you could just use greens you actually like, but not lettuce. Cooking mellows bitter greens, though, and the caramelized goodness of pan drippings complements delightfully what bitterness is left, allowing for a complex, multi-layered flavor.

    Hungry now. ‘Bye.

  55. Twisty

    Sara, I appreciate how you might have arrived at this conclusion, but you mistake me for someone who disapproves of bitter greens. I do not. In fact, I am an inveterate wilter of greens in saute pans. Furthermore, I once ate kale every day for six weeks. And I shovel arugula into the Twisty craw at every opportunity. My beef is with frisee alone.

  56. Chris Clarke

    Beef with frisee sounds great. Can I get that with extra cilantro?

  57. Lindsey

    I put that stuff in my empty cup before I leave the restaurant. I’ve also used it as French Fry Man hair!

  58. Lorenzo

    ROFL.

    I would never have guessed that a series of comments about cilantro and frisee could be this amusing.

    As for me? Hate frisee, love other bitter greens (especially Arugola/rucola), and love cilantro.

    But I hate normal salad. Anything more normal than Raddichio is out of the question for me. Iceberg? if I wanted cardbord with dressing, I’d order it. :p

  59. Lisa

    Frisee – like picking spiders out of my salad. Nuf said.

  60. justicewalks

    I know this post is over a year old, but I don’t think the cilantro-soap thing is entirely genetic. In my case it was an acquired taste, as the first several times I ate it, it tasted like dish detergent, but now it doesn’t. Now when I eat cilantro I can’t discern any soapiness at all.

  61. Twisty

    It is never too late in the day to opine on herbs.

  62. Sarah Z

    justicewalks, I was one of those people who thought cilantro hatred was genetic. I didn’t think of it as a soapy taste so much — when I was younger I agreed with a friend who said it tasted like peasants’ feet (though I don’t think either of us had personal knowledge of that flavor). It took me till my mid-thirties, but I no longer pick it out of my food — I’ve even bought it to add to food on purpose . Mabye it’s an age-related taste bud thing?

  63. Sarah Z

    (I of course support peasants, and their tired, hard-worked feet. Just not in my soup so much.)

  64. Artemis

    I think it’s pretty cool that posts from the archive are being commented on and thus brought back to the fore.

    I force myself to eat the frisee because it looks like something that will scour my intestines and that’s always a good thing (I’m related to someone who has diverticulosis – just about anything to avoid that is worth it, even the nasty tinsel experience of frisee).

    Haven’t yet met the culinary herb that I don’t like. Fresh cilantro in salsa fresca – heaven. And in fresh Thai spring rolls – paradise.

  1. Pharyngula

    Get ready for the Koufaxes

    The Koufax Award nominations are beginning to trickle out. The first ones up are the nominations for Best New Blog of 2005, and oh my, but there is a long, long list. You don’t get to vote yet, though—they are…

  2. Meat!

    the beauty of oil and vinegar

    Twisty at I Blame The Patriarchy posts pictures of her dinners and that is really one of my favorite parts of her blog (though I do sometimes like to get my blame on). Pappa al Pommodoro Good way to…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>