It seems like forever that I’ve known the saying: “Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today.” Every time I have a really super meal, it pops into my head. I thought it was just a saying, you know, a memorable phrase coined by some epicure. Who knew it was the punch line of a “rhyming recipe” written by the 18th century essayist, wit, and Anglican preacher Sydney Smith (1771-1849)? A delightful writer and personality, Smith’s advanced views on such diverse topics as Catholic emancipation, the education of women, and the abolition of slavery (he was for them all) won him friends, and enemies.
Here it is, Sydney Smith’s complete recipe for salad dressing. I can’t claim I followed it precisely for my green salad. In this 21st century, where we are so pressed for time, my own salad dressing is much much simpler. But I’ll bet his is delicious. If anyone should try it out, let us know how you liked it!
A RECIPE FOR A SALAD
To make this condiment, your poet begs
The pounded yellow of two hard-boiled eggs;
Two boiled potatoes, passed through kitchen sieve,
Smoothness and softness to the salad give.
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And, half suspected, animate the whole.
Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,
Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault,
To add a double quantity of salt.
Four times the spoon with oil from Lucca brown,
And twice with vinegar procured from town;
And, lastly, o’er the flavored compound toss
A magic soupçon of anchovy sauce.
O, green and glorious! O herbaceous treat!
‘Twould tempt the dying anchorite to eat:
Back to the world he’d turn his fleeting soul,
And plunge his fingers in the salad bowl!
Serenely full, the epicure would say,
“Fate cannot harm me, I have dined to-day.”
(And as if all that weren’t enough, this bon vivant is also reported to have said: “My idea of heaven is eating paté de fois gras to the sound of trumpets.” Yes yes yes, Sydney!)