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Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

BLTs and the redemption of iceberg lettuce


Pity poor iceberg lettuce. In the post-Alice Waters bright new world of mesclum and mizuna it has been relegated to fast food salad bars and public school lunches. And for good reason. Many of us grew up in a time and place when it was the only green available for salads, usually buried beneath a dollop of guar gum-thickened ranch dressing with some carrot shavings and a few wedges of tasteless styrofoam tomato. Iceberg lettuce has fewer vitamins than its darker green siblings. Nutritionally all it has to offer is some fiber and a little water. The Food Coop doesn't even carry it.

Is there any reason to keep iceberg around? Is there no place for this poignantly unfashionable lettuce?

There is a place for it: the BLT. Yes, the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich is iceberg's true home. For iceberg is thick and crisp enough to hold up to the tomato juices, gooey mayonnaise, and crisp bacon. It has a sweetness that compliments the dark, salty flavor of bacon. And if you're building a sandwich around a trashy-decadent piece of meat like bacon why dress it up with a respectable, nutrient-rich bobo green? Iceberg, this sandwich is for you. We welcome you.

Really, the BLT serves to point out the original purpose of the mesclum revolution: variety in veggies. Different greens work well under different circumstances. Sometimes you need a bitter green, sometimes you need a delicate, tart little green. There's a place for every kind of leaf, even iceberg. Now that we have some choice in the matter of salads and garnishes it's time to appreciate iceberg lettuce for its own unique properties and for its 50/60/70s vintage charm.

11 comments:

janeannechovy said...

I think the rehabilitation of iceberg has been going on for a couple of years now. A restaurant a few blocks from us opened a couple of years ago featuring a salad consisting of a wedge of iceberg with blue cheese dressing, which got many favorable writeups. They also serve a burger with a fried egg on it--cholesterol central.

I love BLTs. Shoot--I just went to the grocery store, and I didn't buy bacon. Have to get some at the farmers market on Saturday, to eat with the last of my tomatoes--Brandywines I was 95% sure wouldn't ripen when I picked them solid green over a week ago, but which now are well on their way to juicy deliciousness.

liz said...

LOL

This has been my favorite post of all blogs for the past several weeks.

I actually ordered a blt last week at a diner!

Each word you selected was placed as perfectly together as these complimentary ingredients in the best sandwich ever made.

Co said...

I like iceberg lettuce. I almost never eat it nowadays, but I like it. Glad to know it's got a friend in you.

And I love BLTs. I have even been known to eat BLs when I have no T.

Janet M. Kincaid said...

BLT.... Yum....

It's funny you should mention iceberg lettuce, because I just bought two heads last night at Harris Teeter. I've found in the last three or four months that I like the clean, simple taste of a salad made with iceberg. I usually really enjoy a "weedy" salad, but for some reason the 'berg is what's doing it for me right now.

And now I'm going to have to go out and get some bacon. I see a sandwich on my horizon.... The challenge: where to find a decent tomato in November....

janeannechovy said...

Duh, Janet--my kitchen! Your chances are pretty good if you can arrive in the next four or five days. :)

Writermama said...

Mo Pitkins offers an iceberg lettuce salad. BLT's mmmm. Too bad I no longer eat bacon. The fake bacon just doesn't cut it.

Anonymous said...

I thought I hated salad during my childhood (in UT) because that's all there ever was--iceberg. To say I hated it is an understatement. I still don't care for it, but if you say it's okay on a BLT, then I believe you.

I had this fabulous meal on Wed. night at a restaurant in my neighborhood. They used all these really cute and tasty microgreens. Do you ever use those? Could you post about it if you do? I don't know where to even get them, but I'd love to buy some and get cooking.

Swizzies said...

I am an unabashed iceberg FAN. Love it. Scott recently discovered the joy that is the BLT (he grew up having NEVER had one - wtf??!), and now we have them about every other week. And iceberg lettuce doth shine with great glorious shininess in this milieu. The other place where there must be iceberg lettuce is in my american-style taco salads. Lordy, the sweetish sassy crispiness that is The Iceberg is the perfect foil for spicy meat, luscious tomatoes, wee shreds o' Irish cheddar, cracked-up tortilaa chips and hot sauce. Mm mmm good.

Hevansrich said...

AV - I enjoyed your commentary on the BLT and iceburg lettuce - as enjoyable as anything i've read in any magazine! (thats a compliment in case it doesn't sound like one!!) and Ms Swizzies, while I whole-heartedly agree with you on the taco-salad, I was a bit shocked to hear you declare your love for iceburg lettuce! I feel that for as long as I've known and dined with you, you couldn't say enough bad things about the lettuce of my youth. I didn't know I was supposed to disdain iceburg until I met you. In fact when I first read this post, I anticipated your cranky comment to show up, remembering the more than one Diner diatribe I witnessed when we were faced with iceburg salad at the Galaxy! I must say marriage has softened you! (hee hee). also, iceburg lettuce is really yummy when used in the Lettuce Wrap Appetizers at P.F. Changs.

Adriana Velez said...

Hey, thanks everybody. It's always a surprise to see which posts elicit the most discussion. Iceberg lettuce -- not so bland a topic, apparently!

Lindsay, we get a few microgreens at the Coop every once in a while, but I imagine they could be found at Whole Foods and the like-- I'll look around.

Swizzies said...

Well, Hevans, everything has its place. I would still sneer at the iceberg taking main stage in my salad of supposed GREENS, but it has its place where its unique loveliness can be recognized. And a salad ain't one of 'em...except for aforementioned taco salads. ;-)