Monday, October 13, 2014

Calling bullshit (AM)

Today, I'd like to call bullshit on something that presents itself as one thing, but really really isn't that thing.
Friends, I want to talk about pasta salad.
Pasta salad is something that has been around for a long time. It never really had a moment, like quinoa had a moment, or kale is having a moment. It has just always been around. Having said that, I think it was more prevalent in the days before the world went food mad, when it had a place at pretty much every BBQ table. These days, you only really find it at BBQs  where multiple generations are present. People of our generation probably wouldn't make a pasta salad unless it was an Ottolenghi recipe and had that tiny pasta in it called orzo or something like that.
But it remains a presence at a certain type of BBQ, the kind where our parents are present. And, in a certain kind of CBD cafe where they service a broad clientele and have a huge range of menu items including salads that are meant to be a healthy alternative to things like, I don't know, toasted pides or pies or something. Pasta salad is a total staple of this kind of place and I've never questioned it. Heck, i've even considered eating it for lunch when it looks fresh and green and herby, maybe with a a little pesto and chilli and maybe some toasted pine nuts on top. I never get it, but I have often considered it. The other day, however, it hit me that pasta salad is kind of a bunch of bullshit.  I was in a meeting that was scheduled for 1pm. One woman showed up and said "I hope you don't mind if I eat my salad during this meeting". The meeting was at 1pm. Lunchtime. No one minded.
But of course it was pasta salad she was eating, not leafy salad, which is absolutely her prerogative. But as I watched her tuck into it I thought lady, you are not eating 'salad', you are eating a cold bowl of pasta, and anyone who thinks that by eating it they're having a healthy option is kidding themselves.
Now don't get me wrong, I am open to a wide range of salads comprised of a wide range of things, not just leafy things. I know that the church of salad is a broad church, and that's a wonderful thing. But pasta salad is typically made up primarily of pasta, with a few other ingredients that provide the colour and movement and flavour. Much like pasta sauce on pasta. Which is to say, pasta salad is basically a cold bowl of pasta. I don't know how it found its way into the light and healthy lunch options category, because it totally isn't. Maybe Big Carbohydrate had something to do with it. But I can finally see pasta for what it is and I'm calling bullshit on it.

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