Thursday, April 26, 2007

Green Goddess for Secretary's Day

I love taking retro dishes and updating them or reinventing them for my needs. Green Godess was created at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in the 1920's. It was named for a play titled "The Green Goddess" for the actor, Richard Arliss, who starred in the play and later the movie (according to "Food Lover's Companion"). He was nominated for an oscar in 1930 for the movie. Wickipedia lists the creator as the chef at the Palace, but in honor of the playwright William Archer rather than the actor. I couldn't find the chef's name who created the dressing. New Orleanian chef Warren LeRuth is credited for creating the Seven Seas bottled version.

The story of the Green Goddess is that three englishmen are stranded in an Indian kingdom and held hostage by the raja, whose brother is in turn held by the English. It must have been quite the popular story in the day, as it was made into a film in 1923 and again-as a talkie- in 1930.

The salad dressing was as ubiquitous in its day as "Ranch " is today. MFK Fisher wrote about it in her book "With Bold Knife and Fork". I based my recipe roughly on her description.

2 cups mayonaise
a couple sprigs of fresh tarragon
a couple sprigs of fresh parsley
2 scallions-green parts included
several chives
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup minced shallot
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup fruity olive oil

puree in the blender or food processor

It is especially good with avocado and chilled asparagus, but for a lunch I turned it into an entree salad with grilled chicken-very pretty and delicious as well. The dressing requires a sturdy green such as Romaine or Escarole-Spring Mix or baby greens wouldn't support such a heavy dressing.

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