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Is Chopped Salad the New Sliced Bread?

Is Chopped Salad the New Sliced Bread?

Years ago, actually make that generations ago, the height of culinary showmanship was a tableside tossing of a Caesar salad. While I am a little too young to remember such a ritual, there were wheeled carts in restaurants that provided the foundation to which dutiful waiters would dress and toss your salad as you sat in waiting. Decades on, most salads are prepared in the kitchen and promptly delivered to the table, leaving their creation (I guess) a thing of magic, not empirical study.

I mention this because much of that salad mystery is disappearing (or should I say reappearing?) before our eyes as the chopped salad craze continues to dominate the fast-casual lunch scene. While most people think of the iconic Cobb salad as the pinnacle of chopped salad, no salad…not Greek, not Asian, not even Caesar, is safe from the rough chop of the blade – reducing an array of ingredients into salad confetti. A chopped salad is simply a salad as anyone would order, but made “easy to eat” by being chopped into tiny, little bits that fit comfortably on your fork. This way you get a bite of greens, beans, and cheese with every lift of the fork. No longer will you be subjected to the tyranny of a lone spinach bite, or the frustration of having a kidney bean roll off your fork. Everything is made easier, almost to the point that it looks pre-digested.

The New York Times recently did a trend piece on the proliferation of chopped salad emporiums like Chop’t Creative Salad Company and Just Salad, and how they are doing bonkers business. The appeal of such an operation is that you line up, customize your salad by requesting different toppings from your salad professional, and then, once everything has been selected, you get to watch them pulverize the selection into a pile of shreds. I will not fault anyone for their taste and enthusiasm for such things, but I am not buying it. I don’t feel the need for my salad to be chopped so violently that every bite tastes and functions exactly the same. Salad is about variety, diversity, and a wee bit of struggle – it keeps you on your toes and ideally keeps you a bit healthy.

So what is your read on this trend? Is chopped salad a means toward better eating and better health, as well as being fun, or is it an unnecessary butchering of a good thing?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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1:12PM PST on Dec 19, 2014

Thank you for posting

11:52AM PST on Feb 6, 2014

I had no idea there was such a thing as "chopped salads". Whenever I make one I always chop certain things - cucumber, tomato, mushrooms. I'm not going to throw a bunch of whole things in there and make it difficult to eat. However I'm also not going to chop everything into bite-sized pieces and have it look like a salad that someone has sat on.

Takeaway salads are a great idea, chopped or otherwise. If it helps someone to eat healthier then why not? But personally, I'd always prefer to make my own.

7:43PM PDT on Oct 13, 2013

Love chopped salad, but dont put a bunch of extra stuff on it.

10:04AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

Ending an article with a question isn't very informative.

12:11AM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

this salad looks yummy :)

5:35PM PDT on Jul 30, 2013

Love salad too!

5:32AM PDT on Jul 30, 2013

Love just about any kind of salad...thanks for the article.

11:35AM PDT on Jul 29, 2013

I guess if it gets you to eat salad, that's cool. I don't really see a need to chop it up.

10:17PM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

I love salads ;) , thanks

5:35AM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

love adding different things to my salad - but don't have to chop it so every bite is the same lol

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