Don’t Mess with Success
Editor’s Note: You know we love us a good food rant, so we were pretty excited when ML (who you may know from Food, Redefined) told us about her rabid, Cobb Salad-induced anger. Please welcome ML, who is joining the ES mix to share her culinary concoctions along with some food rants and raves. And holler back if you know where a girl can find a genuine Cobb Salad.
Sometimes I get on these food kicks. I eat something I really like, and I continue eating it as often as I can until I’ve had enough. This normally only lasts a few days, maybe a week, but can go on for months (the most notable being Spicy Tuna Roll Summer ’06, but this surfaced at the age of four when I refused to eat anything but hot dogs for several weeks).
Recently I was visiting a friend in State College, Pennsylvania and unexpectedly experienced the best salad I’ve ever had. Our choice of restaurant was based solely around drink specials; I wasn’t expecting much from a place with $6 pitches of Long Island iced tea. However, I ordered a Cobb salad and it was heaven. Perfectly cooked chicken, warm crispy bacon, plump tomatoes, buttery ripe avocados, and a perfect greens-to-topping ratio (I prefer a 1:1 or 2:1, depending on the salad). The flavors blended flawlessly and I was addicted. Sadly I haven’t found anything close for comparison since, and there’s a reason…
On an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David is criticized by his friends for ordering a Cobb salad without all of the ingredients that make it a classic Cobb. But I find myself doing quite the opposite. It seems that most popular restaurants, from large chains to cafes to sports bars, do not understand the concept of classic dishes. These places add their own ingredients as they please, sometimes for aesthetic value, other times for no reason other than to “add their own twist.” If I see a Cobb on the menu, I expect lettuce, chicken, bacon, tomatoes, blue cheese, avocados, hard-boiled egg, and some sort of chives/scallions/onion. I don’t want to see carrots, tortilla strips, pre-sliced canned olives, or any sort of yellow shredded cheese on my Cobb salad. And I should not have to ask for ingredients to be taken out of the Cobb salad in order to make it a real Cobb salad.
Sure, the Cobb’s invention might not have been deliberate. However, the reason it has become popular is because the original ingredients tasted great together. If it tasted like it needed more or different ingredients, perhaps they would have been added. Why does Mr. I-create-the-menu-for-a-popular-restaurant-chain feel entitled to make those changes? Olives that taste like a metal do not add to the Cobb’s fatty, delicious flavor. Neither does anything else.
Needless to say, my Cobb salad kick has been ruined (bastards). I can’t change the minds of these restaurants that insist on neon cheese as an accompaniment for my Cobb. Sure, one solution would be to not eat at these places. But that’s what I can afford. For now, I’ll be that customer who endlessly amends her order, and hopes to get lucky with someone who gets it right.
(Photo: Nemo’s Great Uncle)