Thursday, May 21, 2015

Etiquette; How Lettuce Changed It

California Iceberg Lettuce            

Lettuce Changed Table Etiquette in 1926

California is writing a new paragraph in the American book of etiquette, according to J. T. Saunders, freight traffic manager for the Southern Pacific company, who says that lettuce knives must soon be added to the list of table cutlery required by the perfect hostess.
Special lettuce serving forks, most often with lettuce serving spoons, were a Gilded Age neccesity. In fact, gilded tines were needed to help prevent corrosion to the silver, caused by citric acids, vinegar, etc... and other salad dressing ingredients.
“For ages past,” Saunders explained, “authorities on etiquette have insisted that lettuce at table must be cut, speared and conveyed to the mouth entirely with the salad fork. Just try this on a sector of crisp and tender giant California head lettuce, and you will quickly discover that it is not so simple as it sounds." Hence the need for a lettuce knife. 
Lettuce knives, or as they are now known – "salad knives" – and their corresponding salad forks, are slightly shorter than dinner, or place knives and forks.

“From 9,744 carloads in 1922, shipments of California lettuce to eastern markets this year will reach the amazing total of 27,000 carloads, a gain of almost 200 per cent in four years. In 1920 shippers on our coast division shipped only 62 carloads of the salad delicacy.
Salads were not popular in the U.S., until the mid 1800s. Their popularity, when they did become fashionable, was due to the fact that they were seen as very French. They were also a delicacy, as they needed refrigeration to keep fresh longer. Those who could afford large ice cellars, could also afford salad greens.
This year, from the same territory, approximately 12,800 carloads will be shipped. “Equally startling has been the growth of Imperial Valley lettuce shipments. From 1,079 carloads in the 1918-19 season, the Valley will, during the coming season, send eastward more than 16,700 carloads of lettuce." The famous California “Iceberg” head lettuce, developed and perfected by Imperial Valley growers, has created thousands of new lettuce lovers throughout the land. “There is no finer lettuce grown anywhere than in California and to this bears witness the fact that all the nation now eats lettuce. Fifteen years ago lettuce was regarded as a luxury, while today it is as commonplace in the American home as oatmeal and coffee.”
— The Sausalito News, November 1926 

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia