Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Authentic Waldorf Salad.

Today, March 14th …

The original Waldorf hotel opened on this day in 1893 with a charity concert in honour of St Mary’s Hospital for Children. The New York Times referred to it as a Mi-Careme event - that is, an event held in the middle of Lent to celebrate the half-way point of abstinence has been reached. It seems unlikely that the wealthy social elite of New York had suffered much deprivation during the first half of Lent, and it seems even more unlikely that they were served a maigre dinner on the night, but the exact details of the meal do not appear to have been preserved.

Oscar Tschirky the famous “Oscar of the Waldorf” was was the maitre d’hotel from the opening of the hotel until he retired in 1943. Although he was not a chef, it seems he had some hand in suggesting or inspiring food ideas, and tradition says he invented the Waldorf Salad for the hotel opening. In 1896 he authored a cookbook called very unpretentiously The Cook Book, and he included his recipe for the salad:
Waldorf Salad.
Peel two raw apples and cut them into small pieces, say about half an inch square, also cut some celery the same way, and mix it with the apple. Be very careful not to let any seeds of the apples be mixed with it. The salad must be dressed with a good mayonnaise.

Did you notice that there are no walnuts in this recipe? When did they get added?

There is a recipe in The Times Cook Book, No. 2: 957 Cooking And Other Recipes.../By California Women; Brought Out By The 1905 Series Of Prize Recipe Contests In The Los Angeles Times of 1905. I don’t know if it is the first nutty version, but here it is, thanks to Miss K. Hamin of 353 South Alvarado street.

Waldorf Salad.
Three-fourths cup chopped nuts, half cup chopped celery; one cup apple cut fine, dash of paprika, and salt to taste. Mix with mayonnaise or any other salad dressing as preferred. Enough for six persons.

There seems to be an irrepressible human urge to tweak every perfectly good recipe. Mrs Howard P. Denison thought orange rind would be just right, and she contributed her idea to The good housekeeping woman's home cook book (1909) by Isable Gordon Curtis.

Waldorf Salad.
Two cups of celery chopped fine, grated rind of one orange, one cup of apples cut in dice. If fine red apples take six and scoop out insides, making little cups for the salads. Mix the above with the following mayonnaise: One very cold egg yolk with one teaspoon of onion juice and yolk of one boiled egg, one cup of cold olive oil, one tablespoon of sugar, one tablespoon of vinegar, one tablespoon of lemon juice, one teaspoon of salt, one-fourth teaspoon of cayenne, one-half teaspoon of mustard. Mix thoroughly by stirring oil, drop by drop, to the egg and a few drops of vinegar, lemon, salt, pepper, etc, which have been previously thoroughly mixed together; then fill the cups or make plain mixture, serving on white lettuce leaves. Cheese balls are delicious served with this salad.

Anyone out there have any other versions to add?

Tomorrow’s Story …
Crunchy Cracknels.

Last Year's Story ...
Today is Isabella Beeton’s birthday

Quotation for the Day …

To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist - the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know how much oil one must mix with one's vinegar. Oscar Wilde


Anonymous said...

As the opening was a charity concert in honour of St Mary’s Hospital for Children, is it conceivable that the maitre'd designed a theme dish for the occasion?

I found this at Purdue University:

According to early writings, a water apple salad is a ceremonial dish for new mothers.

It doesn't say what writings.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

So, today is the birthday of the Waldorf Salad. My friend Jill was recently researching this dish:

I also learned that they are still serving the salad (in a slighltly nouvelle form) at Oscar's Bistro at the Waldorf.

Anonymous said...

What's a 'water apple?'

My old granny used to put raisins in her Waldorf salad, which we kids did not like anyway. We much preferred Watergate salad.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello everyone - sorry to be late in replying, things have been hectic in the writing department.
kitchen hand - this is a great bit of info, I had never heard of 'water apple salad' for new mothers. I will look at some old midwifery texts and see what I can find out.
t.w.barritt - I saw your post - isnt it funny how two people co-incidentally post on the same topic? always a different angle though. If I ever get to Oscars Bistro I'll have the nouvelle Waldorf.
nene - you now have to explain the Watergate salad - is it one of those Jello things?? I seem to remember looking it up one time and rapidly losing interest!

Anonymous said...

Watergate salad is one of those dishes peculiar to America, I think. It's probably fallen out of favor, but in my youth it was pistascio pudding mix mixed with a tub of non-dairy whipped topping (brand name Cool-Whip), a can of crushed pineapple, miniature marshmallows and chopped pecan nuts. I have no idea where the name originated.

Anonymous said...

Could a water apple be a water chestnut?


Unknown said...

no, it's the fruit of a small tree in the genus Syzygium, native to Indonesia and Malaysia, according to the article from the Purdue horticultural site cited (sorry) by kitchenhand.

Anonymous said...

Well I would have thought, if you were going to write about the true history of the Waldorf Salad, the very least you could do would be to get the gentleman's name right ... he was Oscar Tschirky.

The Old Foodie said...

OOPS! Thanks, Rosalyn. I will have to fire the proof-reader (me). I have fixed it.