Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday, christened on Tuesday, married on Wednesday, took ill on Thursday, worse on Friday, died on Saturday, buried on Sunday, that is the end of Solomon Grundy.
James Orchard Halliwell 1842
It can only be speculation to suggest that this popular children’s rhyme alludes to the English salad, Salmagundi. However, the connection seems likely to me, given this dish’s potential in the wrong hands.
What you might ask is Salmagundi, and why the strange name?
Salmagundi is a salad of lettuce, cooked meat, anchovies, eggs and other condiments. It became popular in the 1700’s, Hannah Glasse gives three recipes in her book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747). She says of the dish, ‘you may always make a Salamongundy of such things as you have, according to your fancy’.
*Mrs. Glasse’s recipe is very similar to Henry Howard’s 1726 instructions in England’s Newest Way in all Sorts of Cookery, which suggests veal, pickles, sorrel, spinach, chives, horseradish, and barberries. Still others from Glasse use apples, cucumbers, celery, watercress, pickled red cabbage, and pickled gherkins for vegetables, and pickled herring, cold pork, duck, or pigeons for meat. Mrs. Raffald, The Experienced English Housekeeper (London, 1775) endorsed pickled herring and garnishes of butter in a pineapple shape. Dressings were usually oil and vinegar or lemon, and sometimes mustard.
It’s easy to see that such permissiveness could allow the dish to become a bit of a dogs dinner; made on Monday, eaten on Wednesday, and you were dead by Friday?
So Salmagudi is a salad, but that doesn’t tell us much about the strange name. The truth is nobody can be sure, but it’s pretty likely that it’s a corruption of the French term salmingondin, and this term itself may be taken from the Italian term salame conditi meaning pickled meat.
Salmagundi seems to have fallen out of favor in the latter half of the 19th century, in line with a general rejection of all things French. This is unfortunate as it makes for a potentially pleasing salad.
To Make Salamongundy
Take two or three Roman or Cabbage Lettice, and when you have washed them clean, swing them pretty dry in a Cloth; then beginning at the open End, cut them cross-ways, as fine as a good big Thread, and lay the Lettices so cut, about an Inch thick all over the Bottom of the Dish. When you have thus garnished your Dish, take a Couple of cold roasted Pullets, or Chickens, and cut the Flesh off the Breasts and Wings into Slices, about three Inches long, a Quarter of an Inch broad, and as thin as a Shilling; lay them upon the Lettice round the End to the Middle of the Dish and the other towards the Brim; then having boned and cut six Anchovies each into eight Pieces, lay them all between each Slice of the Fowls, then cut the lean Meat of the Legs into Dice, and cut a Lemon into small Dice; then mince the Yolks of four Eggs, three or four Anchovies, and a little Parsley, and make a round Heap of these in your Dish, piling it up in the Form of a Sugar-loaf, and garnish it with Onions, as big as the Yolk of Eggs, boiled in a good deal of Water very tender and white. Put the largest of the Onions in the Middle on the Top of the Salamongundy, and lay the rest all round the Brim of the Dish, as thick as you can lay them; then beat some Sallat-Oil up with Vinegar, Salt and Pepper and pour over it all. Garnish with Grapes just scalded, or French beans blanched, or Station [nasturtium] Flowers, and serve it up for a first Course. From Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery, 1747
Jason’s Solomon Grundy
1 Head of Romaine Lettuce
1 head of Iceberg Lettuce
4 cooked (rare) pigeon breasts
4 cooked chicken thighs
4 peeled hard boiled eggs
4 anchovy fillets
4 tablespoons of Pickled pearl onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Finely shred the lettuce and lay on a platter. Julienne the meats and lay upon the lettuce. Thinly slice the lemon and lay this over the meat, then arrange the anchovies over the lemon. Slice the eggs and layer these over the dish. Scatter the onion and parsley over the ‘mound’. Just before serving dress the salad with a classic French dressing.
Adapted from Jason Campbell’s article on Salamongundy listed on Nicebites, and reproduced with their permission.
Enjoyed this article? Browse our giftshop at janeaustengiftshop.co.uk for Regency recipe books!