I’ll have the side salad – SoCS

This post is part of SoCS: http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-1914/


Side salad is a US public domain work

The stereotypical American woman in TV shows and movies just orders a “side salad” at a restaurant, to emphasize that she is on a diet, and has great will power over the delectable main dishes of her companions. She also orders it “with lemon.” You know, sans dressing. This shows even more her strength over the dreaded calorie in order to be thin. When I see these scenes in movies I can never quite work out whether she does this to look down her nose at and mock any woman having the pasta, or whether she is so insecure that she denies herself the pasta out of a belief that she doesn’t deserve such pleasures. In any case, the “side” salad by definition ceases to be a “side” salad if eaten as appetizer, main course, and dessert all at once.  If it’s a “side” salad, then it’s meant to be an accompaniment to something else.

For me, being in my forties, starting this blog, traveling, it’s all a part of “Having the Pasta.” Because I don’t think those women who have the “side” salad as their whole meal ever really enjoy anything. I think it’s good to have a salad, really I do. It’s enjoyable on its own merit, but eaten as it was intended – on the SIDE. Along-side something more filling. I wonder if those women go home at night and regret “just having the side salad”?

My challenge to myself, (and maybe you’ll want to take it on too, chers lecteurs) is to stop having the side salad as a meal. I’m not really talking about food here. I think too often we take the side salad in life by being too timid to do that thing we’ve always wanted to try when the opportunity comes up, and doing something else instead, something less “scary”, taking less risks, sitting on the sidelines and watching everyone else eat the pasta while you squeeze your lemon onto your lettuce.

I remember once when I was a little girl, I went to some sort of fair, and there was a carousel. It was big and the coolest horses were the ones that went up and down and they had beautiful gold saddles. I wanted to ride one of these like a couple of my friends were doing. They had the pasta! They got to ride up and down on the big gold-trimmed horses. I chickened out because of their size and opted to ride in the two-seat “coach” that didn’t move. I ended up sitting in there next to someone else’s grandma. I remember that she smelled a bit like mothballs, and I didn’t have any fun, watching my friends going up and down on the big horses. I had gotten the side salad. It’s part of being shy sometimes, and I did this sort of thing many times in my life. Now, I think I can say with more certainty what I like and don’t like, what I really desire to do and what I decline to do because I really don’t want to! Now, I try to do things that scare me a little bit from time to time, and I rarely regret it. I only regret having the side salad as a meal!

And you, dear readers? Have you ever regretted having the side salad? Have you ever regretted having the pasta? Tell me! All your comments and stories are wonderful gifts!

Until next time…à la prochaine fois…





19 thoughts on “I’ll have the side salad – SoCS

  1. What a great metaphor for the options we do and don’t choose! I’d rather have even a small portion of pasta with my salad ANY day of the week. If salad is going to be my meal, it’s going to be something a little heartier than the side. Life is too short to live with regrets about missing out. That’s probably how I ended up spending the last five years living in a foreign country. It was never in the plan, but when the opportunity came along, it didn’t make a lot of sense to not have the pasta. 🙂


    1. Thanks for the comment, Deborah! It sure sounds like you are embracing your opportunities! How wonderful to have the chance to live in such an exotic locale as Taiwan for a while 🙂


  2. Midlife is defintiely time to go for the main dish, not the side! Applause, applause!

    Your story about the carousel made me think of a local story. I live in Broome County, NY, which has six vinatge carousels from the 1920-30s, given as gifts by the Johnson family, of then-large local employer Endicott Johnson Shoes. The carousels were given to the various local parks for the enoyment of the community and carry the stipulation that they will always be free to ride. They were designed for all the horses to be “jumpers” which go up and down, so that no child (or adult) would be disappointed at having a stationary horse while others were going up and down. There are chariots, though, so that people who can’t mount horses can still ride. All generations of people love the carousels and people who have moved away go and visit them in summertime nostalgia.


  3. Excellent post -worthy of being on Huffington Post or in Oprah magazine! Right up there with the type of things Martha Beck writes.

    I am so glad you are conscious of this in your own life when you have so many years remaining to choose pasta. This clear thinking about side salad vs. pasta makes every decision easier – it doesn’t ‘t matter which you choose as long as you are making conscious choices and accepting opportunities gained, lost or postponed for another day. The wasted life comes from not even being aware.


    1. You’re too kind. (blushes) I doubt my little “musing” merits all that, but it is something I try to think about more often as I get older, that’s for sure!


      1. No, I read a LOT of so-called “expert” bloggers in many public forums. Often they aren’t as well-written and clear-messaged as yours. Not overblown praise on this one, trust me 🙂


  4. You make so many good points here. I agree with you yet sometimes have wondered if other people have it right — then I see that very often, they don’t seem happy. Like the kind of person you mentioned who would eat a side salad as their meal; have you ever noticed how pinched some of them look? Like they’re stressed by their own rules but can’t break out of them…we all deserve to relax a little and enjoy life. 🙂 Great reminder!


  5. @”If it’s a “side” salad, then it’s meant to be an accompaniment to something else.” – je suis d’accord avec toi: la salade est une garniture à une viande, en général… 🙂
    mais bcp de français mangent une salade composée en entrée… je le fais parfois avec du chèvre chaud ou gésiers/foies de canard… yummy! 🙂

    quant à la vinaigrette, je la fais moi-même avec olive oil, lemon juice, vinaigre de pommes ou de framboise, fleur de sel et poivre gris… bon appétit! 🙂
    * * *
    voici un blog délicieux: 🙂


    1. Yes, I also like a salad as a meal, in fact, making salads is kind of one of my specialties! But I try all kinds of things in them…sometimes meat, sometimes brown rice or israeli couscous, fruits, herbs, various kinds of cheeses, olives, croutons, nuts, really whatever I have on hand that seems to blend together well :-). Merci pour le lien. J’aime beaucoup pratiquer mon français en utilisant des recettes en français !


  6. I think perhaps a closer perusal of the woman in the restaurant might reveal an elastic band on her wrist, thereby adding a further dimension to the metaphor. I find myself polishing the reverse of this coin because I long ago declared self-denial in the salad department and my love for pasta is well known.

    Did I ride the cart? Yes, but that was part of a childhood which always demanded I apologize for being there. I have become more adventurous since.


    1. Well, that would actually make her an interesting character, wouldn’t it? As for the carousel, adventurous is a great thing, never too late to go back to it! Just make sure to have the pasta after the carousel ride and not before, right? 😉

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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