Case of the Worst Salad Ever

I was out in the country seeing local music and eating barbeque when I was confronted with a compelling mystery. The mystery sat unassumingly in a bowl beside my plate of ribs, and it appeared to be garnished with bacon bits.

This shady character had assumed the alias of “Five-Layer Vegetable Salad.” Ignoring the apparent redundancy at the end of that phrase, I decided to try it. From the bottom of the bowl to the top, here are what the five layers seemed to be: iceberg lettuce (and we all know no good salad begins with iceberg); obviously canned peas; onions; a thick, puddingy layer of white stuff that didn’t have any distinct flavor but might have been mayonnaise; chopped hardboiled eggs; and the aforementioned bacon bits.

This detective was baffled. Where were the five vegetables promised? What was the white goo, and why was there so much of it? Why was flavor conspicuously absent from every corner of the bowl? And seriously, what was that, mayonnaise?

I needed to consult my assistant Jameson for, you know, assistance. For one thing, I had never been faced with a case this impenetrable, and for another thing, the pain and torture I underwent as I tried to investigate the salad through repeated mixings, pokings, jigglings, sniffings, and (unfortunately) tastings had been unbearable. In my weakened state, I could not rely on my own judgment to scrute this inscrutable dish.

It turned out that my assistant was of little help, cringing and producing only the sounds of gagging when faced with my bowl of mystery. At least with Jameson at my side and in my glass, though, I would be able to wash away the gooey residue it had left behind.

Case Status: Suspended, also Repugnant


  1. i watch “good eats” with alton brown regularly and learned that peas have a VERY short shelf life. canned are the absolute worst. frozen is best as that is how they retain the most of their deliciousness; they are apparently frozen while still at peak flavor. i had no idea and had been doing canned, but tonight i made stroganoff with frozen peas and they were DELICIOUS!! plump, juicy, firm, flavorful, non-gelatinous, just perfect.

    as for that salad, eeeeew.


  2. I hate to agree with Alton, but he is right on that. Frozen are the best. I should own stock in them; I put them in every damned thing. Yeah, these were those sad, brown ones. Clearly from a can.

    And! You will appreciate that I had to eat the ribs WITH MY HANDS. I was so stoic, though, about the ribs. It was the salad that broke me.


  3. I did just a wee bit of investigating (thanks, googs!) and found a recipe for a Five Layer Salad:

    1 bag spinach
    1 medium head lettuce
    6 hard-boiled eggs
    1 pound bacon, crumbled — cooked crisp
    1 (10 oz.) frozen peas — uncooked

    1 cup mayonnaise
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 small pkg. Ranch dressing
    Layer salad in clear glass bowl in same order as above. Then spoon dressing on top sealing edges with dressing. Spread evenly. Cover with saran and chill 3 hours or overnight. Serve straight down so each person gets all of the layers.

    Still, I can’t imagine being pleased to be serving this “straight down” layered “salad” to anyone.

    And I seriously cannot believe you ate something with brown peas in it, even as a good sport. Peas, they are not brown! Nooooo!


  4. OMG, that’s it! THAT IS THE SALAD. This recipe sounds, admittedly, sightly better due to the call for spinach and frozen peas, but still.

    I was kind of debating about the white stuff: mayo or sour cream? I guess it was both. They definitely did not add the packet of Ranch seasoning, though, as there were no visible or palatable spices or seasonings of any kind.

    I can’t believe you found this recipe! It’s like real evidence, proving that I wasn’t just having some kind of waking nightmare!


  5. Oh, too bad, I was hoping it was Cool Whip. Expecting mayonnaise and getting Cool Whip is a nasty surprise, I can tell you that much.


  6. Oh, that must be. Ack. Though, I imagine, it might be worse the other way around. Like: getting mayo in/on a jello salad, on top of a pie, with ice cream. EWWWW. But then again, think of tuna salad with cool whip. OK, gotta go barf now.


  7. whoa, did they not have a fork and knife for the ribs? or did you just give in? tearing meat from bones with your TEETH!?! new wye is rubbing off on you and i am growing concerned…

    you didn’t also spread the mystery white stuff on your lips and then attempt to converse with your dining mates without the benefit of a napkin, did you? DID YOU?!?


  8. Oh dear god! SO, I had basically NO CHOICE – it was hands or a plastic spork. I wasn’t even going to get the ribs because of this, but the hotdog stand wasn’t operational and I was starving, and I thought, “well, if I can’t handle the ribs, I’ll at least have this salad that seems to have some eggs/bacon/protein, etc in it.” HA. HAAAAA. I weep.


  9. Texas has this salad problem too. They believe that a salad consists of iceberg, some sad carrot shavings, an egg, bacon bits and maybe a slice of cucumber and a cherry tomato. THEIR SALAD IS A LIE.

    The thing about mayo is that it isn’t even food. It’s on the list of things that aren’t food put people eat anyway:

    Artificial Strawberry Flavoring
    Thousand Island Dressing


  10. Real Mayo is indeed food! It has eggs in it, qualifying it as protein foodstuffs. Even if it’s very little protein. Therefore, Thousand Island can also be considered food if it contains real mayo.

    The most depressing food ever might actually be canned rutabagas. Then, they do have an awesome name.


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