Marshmallows don’t belong in salads

Is this fruit salad or just cut fruit? (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

This is the second column about salad, and I’m not even a food writer. With the holidays firmly behind us, and extended family secure in their own homes, I am here to put my foot down. A salad can’t contain marshmallows. It’s a dessert.

Let’s start with the basics. No parent is shouting at their children, “eat your marshmallows.” The formal definition of a salad may be up for discussion, but just tossing candy into a bowl and calling it salad doesn’t make it a salad. It’s a pacifier.

You know I’m right. Let’s take the Ambrosia Salad as a reference. It’s just an example. I’m sure your recipe is fantastic. It’s still not a salad. Marshmallows automatically jettison it from the salad category. Plus, greens in a salad can’t be candied fruit. You’ll next tell me that fruit cake is a protein. These statements aren’t science-based or in the dictionary but are opinions. 

Please don’t come at me with your 1950s Jell-O molds and canned fruit. Some things don’t need to make a comeback, like low-rise jeans. Food made from non-food items and built around nostalgia are a few of those things.

The Cambridge English Dictionary’s definition of salad is a mixture of uncooked vegetables or fruit, usually including lettuce, eaten as a separate dish or with other foods. A secondary definition lists salad as “uncooked cold vegetables and ingredients cut into small pieces and mixed with mayonnaise like tuna or potato salad.” Merriam-Webster cuts to the point and defines salad as a hodgepodge of ingredients, whether the final mixture is served cold, contains vegetables, or is encased in gelatin. The last definition defines a potluck dinner rather than a salad course.

I completely support a dessert first philosophy, but we need consistency. Some people prefer a salad as a starter, while others prefer it as a main course or accompaniment. There are also those of us serving salad after the main course. There are reasons for the various course placements. One group may feel a salad first can help fill people faster, while a salad served last is said to help with digestion. It doesn’t matter when I eat a salad; I want to leave the marshmallows for the campfire s’mores. Enjoy!


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