Salad Days

If there's one thing I'm not good at*, it's making snap decisions. No, I am definitely a girl who likes to prepare. This becomes a trifle inconvenient when I need to calculate a tip, and even worse when I take a taxi or have food delivered and need to calculate a tip on demand. Have you ever tried to do math under pressure? While being watched to see if you're carrying the one and/or conveying the correct amount of respect---via a percentage of your total bill, of course---for the plight of the poor deliveryperson? It's daunting. Or at least it's daunting for me.

Worst of all, however, is ordering at the salad place near my office. Oh my god, ordering at the salad place; it's enough to make me break into a cold sweat. In fact, I just shivered violently at the thought. You probably felt it.

Ordering at the salad place is a nightmare. You have to know what you want, and you have to know it now now now, lest you attract the withering stare of the salad-maker, he whose hand is hovering hesitantly over the, no, I meant the cherry, actually, let's go with the blue cheese. I mean the chickpeas! Wait, the cucumber slices!

I always make the wrong decisions at the salad place. Having to choose A) the type of lettuce, B) the type of salad dressing, and C) whether I want the application of that salad dressing to be light, medium, or heavy, is enough to make me need a little lie-down afterwards. By the time we get to the actual ingredients of the salad, I'm done for. It's too much pressure. How can I choose two staples and two specialties when just the act of deciding whether I'm going to eat here or take away has caused me, while standing in line, to fashion a cold compress out of a paper napkin and a cup of ice?


Knowing what you now know about the salad place will perhaps help you to understand the salad I ordered today. Because truly, I have no other defense. There is no reason or logic behind this salad, aside from the fact that I was pushed to the brink of insanity by both the fast-moving line and the fact that I wasn't ready to order yet. Then there were the expectations I'd built up in my head for this salad, and the harried salad-maker behind the counter, his face turned towards me like a question mark.

"Time to choose your four ingredients!" he said. "What can I get you?"

"Uh, egg, please" I said. Protein without having to pay extra for chicken!

"And....maybe....edamame?" I added hesitantly. It's healthy!

"And....I guess....avocado," I flailed, now starting to grasp at straws.

There was a pause.

"And your fourth ingredient?" he asked.

I cast about me wildly. Nothing looked familiar. Nothing sounded good. The salad-maker's eyes seemed to bore into mine: HURRY UP HURRY UP HURRY UP. YOUR SALAD IS ALREADY A FAILURE.  HURRY UP HURRY UP HURRY UP.

"Um," I said. "Mango!"

"Mango?" he asked.

"Mango!" I confirmed.

"Mango," he said. "Okay."


Internet, please never do this. Please never order an egg, edamame, avocado, and mango salad. You don't want to put yourself through that, I assure you. I like you far too much. My salad was---to put it the way my Southern friend has told me polite Southern ladies do---not my favorite. By which I mean it tasted like a litterbox sandwich.

Egg and mango, friends. May you never have to know what the two taste like together. 

*I'm actually not very good at a lot of things, up to and including long division, telephone conversations with people I don't know well, taking no for an answer, and blowdrying my hair so it looks like it did after the hairdresser blowdried it. Though really, can ANYONE do that?

Feb 22, 2010

I have the same problem at the salad place. So I actually write a list of exactly what I want before I step in there. Try it next time you're bored in your 11 o'clock meeting! When I get to the counter, I school them in efficiency. I'm barking out my ingredients like a drill sergeant and they're struggling to keep up with me. Oh, the power. (And perfect salad, every time.)

Feb 23, 2010

Oh Holly... You never fail at making me snort with laughter while drinking my morning coffee at work (we're in the European time zone here).

I know exactly what you mean, and I have been on 'the other side' as a so-called Subway 'Sandwich Artist'. With a boss breathing down my neck ('it should never take you more than 60 seconds to make a sandwich!') it's hard not to stare and try som encouraging telepathy with the poor customer...

Thanks for the tip about egg and mango - I'll do all I can to keep those two apart :)

Feb 23, 2010

Okay, I'll take your advice on the salad. Shouldn't be too hard, since I'm no fan of avocado...or edamame...

And while you may flounder in some areas, know that you write really well and have a wonderful sense of humor. Your dear readers love you.

Feb 23, 2010

I've actually asked the hairdresser about my personal failings regarding making my hair look the way that she does when she blowdries it. She seemed very aware that I would never - could never - have her blowdrying skills. So I just shouldn't worry about it.

And oh, the internal dialogue that goes on when making a split decision about a tip. The worst.

Feb 23, 2010

As a woman living in the south, I know exactly what "not my favorite" tastes like and I'm so sorry for you.

Feb 23, 2010

Ummm, gross. Yeah.

On a completely different topic, I would swear you are (or are related to) the woman watching the car pass by in the new Acura ZDX commercial.

Please confirm or deny...

keenie beanie
Feb 23, 2010

I'm envisioning your salad place like the "No soup for you!" scene from Seinfeld. I can't bring myself to frequent eating establishments that stress me out... unless I simply cannot get a craving satisfied any other way.

this new place
Feb 23, 2010

I feel this way when I go to Subway.

amber, theAmberShow
Feb 23, 2010

Delis! Those places with the meats and the cheeses and the breads and the toppings and the chips and the drinks and OH MY GOD!

Salad I can do, but a deli... *shiver*

I feel your pain.

Feb 23, 2010

I make a salad every day containing spinach, chopped chicken or turkey, carrots, grape tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese, and cranberries, topped with raspberry vinaigrette dressing (light! always light!) and sometimes a sprinkle of chopped nuts. Delicious!

Feb 23, 2010

Having spent over a decade of my life waiting tables, I can calculate 20% right quick. Here's my tip for calculating tips: double the first and second number of the bill. For example, a bill that is $72? $14.40 would be a perfect twenty percent tip. $67 bill? $12+1.40=$13.40.

I usually double the first number, look to see if the second is over/under 5, and than either round down/up.

Feb 23, 2010

Ursula - Brilliant! I do the same thing but with a different method. I take 10% and doublt it.

72? 10 percent is 7.20 x 2 is 14.40!

But after martinis, even this method can fail me. And then I end up giving like 40% because I don't want to think but I don't want to screw the server. I am a favorite customer at a lot of places...

Feb 23, 2010

wait... you calculate a tip (from the total amount) when you have food delivered? when i have food delivered, the guy gets $4 (or $5) regardless of the total amount; it's a delivery, it's not service at a restaurant.
the thought of eggs and mango together made me shiver.

Feb 23, 2010

ps: the stress of figuring out tips quickly (for example in cabs) makes me a big over-tipper. i'd rather tip too much than not enough, much to the delight of cabbies, i'm sure.

Operation Pink Herring
Feb 23, 2010

I used to get paralyzed by indecision at Chipotle -- Chipotle! Where there are only four basic choices! -- so often that I've learned not to deviate from my favorite burrito, not ever. I'll have the vegetarian burrito, corn salsa, both kinds of beans and yes I know the pinto aren't vegetarian and it's OK because I totally eat meat. I probably recite that in my sleep, it's so well rehearsed.

Feb 23, 2010

He sounds like the soup nazi from Seinfeld! Situations like these are why I practice ordering in my head for like, ten minutes before it's my turn in line.

Hip Hip Gin Gin
Feb 23, 2010

That is exactly like ordering at Anna's Taqueria. I've never had to order a burrito so fast in my life, and even though I rehearse the ingredients in my head the whole time I'm in line (seriously) when he finally asks me what I want I freeze. It's too much pressure. I make my husband go and get takeaway now.

Oh and talking on the phone to people you don't know well? Right there with you, I get nervous when I need to call and book an appointment for something, which takes a max of four sentences.

Feb 23, 2010

Aww, I do feel your pain as I very often have the same problem with snap decisions. I also have another problem when frequenting the office cafeteria. If I find nothing that looks appetizing to me at the moment, but I've made conversation with the nice woman working, I feel too guilty to not buy something. I'm not sure why - she probably doesn't even make the food. And I'm left usually throwing out half a serving of lasagna because I've discovered they've used Kraft singles as the cheese. (This has actually happened, unfortunately.)

Feb 23, 2010


I'm so bad with tips for cab drivers. I can't do math in my head that quickly! In fact, I'll actually start calculating before I even arrive. Like "it should be about $7, so a good tip would be about $1.50 so I'll give him $9."

No wonder cab drivers love me......I'm always overtipping!

Feb 23, 2010

This post couldn't have come at a better time. You see, I don't have a salad place anywhere near my hometown. However, I was just in Boston for a conference and encountered just such a restaurant. Being a salad lover, I decided I would check it out. I actually went into this restaurant three different times before I actually ordered a salad. I was so overwhelmed and filled with anxiety that I just couldn't do it! I finally had to take a menu back to my hotel room and literally circle the items that I wanted to include. It worked out delightfully well, and I didn't end up with egg and mango in my salad!!

jennifer in sf
Feb 23, 2010

Oh yeah. I go into those salad situations with a plan. The only problem is that my favorite place often runs out of the smoked tofu and then I have to come up with a replacement. That rarely goes well.

Amy --- Just A Titch
Feb 23, 2010

After many dinners at my favorite salad place, I've finally memorized my order, which gives me SEVEN TOPPINGS ON MY SALAD. I memorized them and count them off on my fingers, nerves raging the whole time. It really is a stressful experience.


This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang, but with "Mango!"

Tracy H.
Feb 23, 2010

I can so relate to this whole post!

This sounds a LOT like the salad my father made all of us at his birthday party.

He told us it would be a, "Party in our mouth," but what he failed to mention was that it would contain the following,

artichoke hearts

You just threw up a little in your mouth didn't you?

So did we.

Subourbon Wife
Feb 23, 2010

As a non-mango-eater I have to say "bless your heart", (which can either be a nice way of showing sympathy, or the worst way to insult someone). That's Southern, y'all.

Feb 23, 2010

Yup - I know of this salad place of which you speak. SO stressful. The MOST annoying thing is that the aforementioned salad cost you twelve bucks. Or close to it anyway. Certainly north of the 6 dollar lunch comfort zone. I hate that. When it's a great salad, no problem! When it's a horrible failure...nothing adds insult to injury more than your lighter wallet. Frankly, Mr. Salad Man should have counseled you on your last choice. If you smile (and I go to the Mixt Greens on Sansome) and act REALLLLLY nice, then they may assist you with some good ideas.

Feb 23, 2010

Yup - I know of this salad place of which you speak. SO stressful. The MOST annoying thing is that the aforementioned salad cost you twelve bucks. Or close to it anyway. Certainly north of the 6 dollar lunch comfort zone. I hate that. When it's a great salad, no problem! When it's a horrible failure...nothing adds insult to injury more than your lighter wallet. Frankly, Mr. Salad Man should have counseled you on your last choice. If you smile (and I go to the Mixt Greens on Sansome) and act REALLLLLY nice, then they may assist you with some good ideas.

Feb 23, 2010

So I had to delurk because I so have this problem! The other day I wanted to order some chicken nuggets and a small iced tea from Wendy's. Except I panicked when ordering, and asked for a small cheeseburger. There was a confused silence and then the guy behind the counter asked me if I meant a Jr. cheeseburger...and I was too embarassed/panicked to say NO! I wanted chicken fingers. So I just said yes and took my cheeseburger and iced tea and ran outside. Epic ordering fail. Sigh.

Nothing But Bonfires
Feb 23, 2010

Marissa -- it's totally Mixt Greens! Though luckily the salad only cost $6.59 -- I do the two specialties, two staples kind to keep costs down. But that's why I end up ordering such bizarro combinations: you have to pick from such specific buckets of ingredients!

Feb 23, 2010

When I was living in China, some of my Chinese co-workers visited the US and when they returned I asked them what they thought of the US.

Their response was that it was so nerve wracking ordering at restaurants because the waitress asks you so many questions. Just when you think you have navigated the menu and picked something, they throw ten more questions at you.

Imagine ordering at the salad stand if you are not fluent in English!

But you just gotta love how you can make exactly what you want at nearly any restaurant here!

Feb 23, 2010

Um, People-

PACK YOUR LUNCH! it's not hard, and my god it would save you all so much trauma!

Feb 24, 2010

That was typically Holly-arious! I know...clever right?
LOVE LOVE LOVE your life and sense of humour! :D

Nothing But Bonfires
Feb 24, 2010

Hey D -- I actually pack my lunch most days: or rather, I keep a bag of salad supplies in the work fridge and make myself a salad every day. The day I went to the salad place, I was treating myself. Thanks for your bizarrely acrimonious comment left with a fake email address, though! Always a pleasure.

Feb 24, 2010


Awesome, Holly. I panic when I am at a restaurant with people I don't know well. It's like when the server is going through the specials, s/he is speaking gibberish and I normally just panic and order a cheese pizza regardless of what kind of restaurant I am at.

Feb 24, 2010 I want salad! NOT with egg and mango though. Ew.

Feb 24, 2010

Ok, so you know Lee's? There's one on New Montgomery near my school, but I'm sure there's one near your work. Anyway, it's a salad bar/hot Chinese food bar an when I build a salad, it usually comes out kind of like that--but it tastes great!

I always start with a little spinach, throw on some avocado, shredded carrots, kidney and garbanzo beans, a liberal scoop of the scary tuna salad (whatever, low-fat protein!) and then--there's this weirdly delicious barley/quinoa cold pilaf with dried apricots and a sort of mustardy vinaigrette. And sometimes I sneak a little sun-dried tomato/feta orzo salad in there too. Somehow, everything combines to taste yummy and fresh. I call it "functional" salad: greens, protein, whole grains, etc.

Feb 24, 2010

Ha! I only WISH I could keep my order under ten bucks - I'm cursed with spendy taste and an inability to commit (read: indecisiveness) to the basic options they offer! Argh! I second the Lee's notion though - the one on Battery @ Bush is great and I'm usually pretty pleased with what I come back with.'s a GREAT tip: Ayola on Kearny at Bush, mid-block just down from the Aveda Institute. Delicious (and cheap!!) Greek food!

Nothing But Bonfires
Feb 24, 2010

I loooooooooooooove Ayola! Best falafel in the city!

Nothing But Bonfires
Feb 24, 2010

Wait, I'm talking about the Ayola on New Montgomery. Are there two?!

Feb 26, 2010

OMG, this is the first time I literally sprang tears from laughing so hard over something I read on the internet. WOW.

So did you eat all of the salad?

Camels & Chocolate
Mar 01, 2010

This would be my excuse for no longer eating salads. Just sayin'.

Salad Spinner
Mar 11, 2010

Does anyone have the recipe for chicken salad with? I'm looking for the recipe for chicken salad that has peas and potatoes...i had this at a baby shower on some tostadas and it was really good. does anyone have this recipe. thanx

Nike sb
Aug 23, 2010

Thank you for the essential article.

May 18, 2016

If time is money you've made me a weelahitr woman.

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