10 Reasons Why

10 Reasons Why Salad Bars Are Just Like Real Life


1. Nobody really wants the lettuce.

Sure, we’ve been raised as consumers to believe that the foundation of any decent salad is chopped-up leafage of some kind. This is a scam. Do not fall for it. The salad people want you to load up on the greenery so your container will be too full when you get to the really good, more expensive stuff. Out of courtesy, it’s okay to get a tong or two of the lettuce, if for no other reason than to have a nice background for your salad-building presentation. Otherwise, just say no.

Besides, we all know that lettuce has no nutritional value. I don’t care what the granola-crunchers have to say about this, it’s true. Yes, you might get a vitamin or two out of it if you nibble on some lettuce while you stand there in the garden, but once the head has been officially picked, the nutrition starts leaking. By the time the lettuce has been boxed and shipped, it becomes the equivalent of those packing peanuts you get with the more professional eBay shipments. They might fill up a space, but they don’t really do anything for you.

(Side note to the Lettuce Choppers of the World: Some of you need to get with your union representatives, because you obviously missed out on some training somewhere. Lettuce pieces should be small and manageable, something you can easily get in your mouth without dislocating your jaw. The pieces should not be the size of Delaware. And by no means should you ever let any of that horrid white core get into the mix you present to the public. That’s just obscene. Take pride in your work, for God’s sake.)

2. People don’t understand boundaries.

The sneeze guard is there for a reason. It’s to keep your nasty-ass germs out of the food. Contrary to what your little mind might believe, it is not there to cause you personal trauma, or to present a challenge of any kind. Do not try to crawl under it, with you and your ill-advised hairdo getting too close to the shredded carrots. I don’t care if you’re just trying to reach the artichoke hearts on the back row of options. If you can’t obtain what you want with only minimal effort, then you don’t need it. Pick something else.

And just because there IS a sneeze guard, it doesn’t mean you can forget about any other civic responsibilities concerning things you might feel compelled to expel from your body. If you feel a sneeze coming on, you step away and you cover things. If you are one of those people who don’t realize that hacking and snorting in public is vile, then you need to just put down your container and leave the area immediately. There’s just no excuse for body noises in a mixed crowd.

3. Some people don’t do well in groups.

There is a protocol to going through the salad bar line, and it basically comes down to this: Keep Moving. Yes, there’s a bunch of things to pick from, and it can be a little overwhelming during the first few seconds when you survey the scene and decide on the best approach. But you should already know what you like and don’t like, so there’s no need to consult the stars over every ingredient. Get what you need in the current zone, and then take a step forward.

If you find yourself behind one of those Jerry Springer fans who are mesmerized by the sliced radishes and can’t make a decision, it is perfectly acceptable to show your dissatisfaction. Go ahead, crowd them a bit. Try reaching for something that is technically in their temporary jurisdiction. Use your elbows, if necessary. If all else fails, and the loser is still befuddled and non-moving, take whatever dish it is that they are staring at and throw it off the back of the salad bar. Done. Now go.

Oh, and one final thing with this party train business. If you decide that you now want something you passed up in a zone that is behind you, you DO NOT push your way back to that zone, expecting people to accommodate your worthlessness. You step out of line, forfeiting your position, and you start over at the back of the line. There is no discussion here. Violation of this rule lead can lead to justifiable public-slapping.

4. Variety is not necessarily a good thing.

Although it can be initially intoxicating to encounter a salad bar with hundreds of options, further study will reveal that most of it is for show, with mystifying bogus items that are actually a little frightening, if you think about it. Do you really want some of these things on your salad? Of course you don’t. No one in their right mind would want pickled beets or grilled tofu. These things just sit there, never touched, becoming just like those satellite TV channels in the upper hundreds that nobody watches.

5. There is no “five-second-rule” when you are in public.

If you are uncoordinated and manage to drop a piece of something before it gets in your container, you must be very careful with your next move in order to avoid social ostracism. If the bit of whatever lands in the ice, you can possibly flip it back into the bowl it came out of and no one will notice. (Relax, this is not a sin, the ice will kill the bacteria. Swear.) But if the AWOL ingredient lands outside the iced area, you just let it lay there. Do NOT pick it up, because it is now officially contaminated. Pretend like you didn’t notice the carnage and keep moving, just like most Republican voters in America.

6. Some people are just pigs.

But don’t get too carried away with the food flopping, or you will fall into this mortifying category. How is it that some people manage to make a mess from one end of the salad bar to the other? What are they doing to cause this? You’ve seen the damage before, when you innocently waltz up to the bar, and it looks like the dollar bin at Wal-Mart, with crap thrown everywhere, cheese mashed on the sneeze guard, and the salad dressing tubs knocked over. Did some beast just kill its prey?

7. Some people misunderstand the appropriate time for social-networking.

The salad bar is not one of those opportunities. In fact, it’s basically quiet time. I don’t need to hear anything about why you are having a salad today, what ingredients are your favorite, or what surprising things you may have learned on your last doctor visit when everybody was having a good laugh over your chart. Shut up. Even if you’re my friend or we’re related. Go down there by the croutons and talk to them. They won’t care about your life, either, but those crusty bits haven’t yet mastered the art of mobility and they can be your captive audience. Not me.

8. The salad dressing choices are always limited.

Yes, they might have several varieties, causing some preliminary anticipation and excitement. But again, analysis will reveal that you don’t even want most of these things. What is the purpose of low-fat blue cheese dressing? The whole point of blue cheese is the flavor of the delicious fat grams. Why mess with perfection by trying to make it healthy and therefore tasteless? And all that vinaigrette mess? Vinaigrette anything is just water with some herbs floating in it, it’s not dressing. It doesn’t matter how “balsamic” it might be, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment if you choose this option.

9. In the end, it’s all about the numbers.

If you find yourself at one of those “one price, all you can eat, pile it on” kind of places, you don’t have to worry too much about what you’re shoving into the container. (In fact, go a little crazy. Pull up to the bar in a Mack truck if you want, and use a shovel.) But if it’s a “by the ounce” establishment, and you’re on any kind of budget, you have to pay attention to what you’re doing. Otherwise, you can quickly end up having to decide between actually purchasing the salad or making your car payment.

Meat is heavy. Yes, you need a few of those chicken or ham cubes for the protein, but use some common sense. Don’t go hurling entire carcasses around like the Donner Party on a bender. Stay away from pasta salads. From a weight and cost perspective, these things might as well be concrete blocks with a splash of mayo. And don’t touch the cucumbers. After all, cucumbers are really just water trapped in an oddly-oily green casing. They serve no purpose other than to make you burp. Water is normally free. Don’t spend good money on it.

Follow these rules and you won’t find yourself making the march of shame to the register, forking over twenty-seven dollars for something you’re not going to finish anyway and will probably throw away after you’ve picked out all the good stuff.

10. The world is full of lies about healthy food.

One of those falsehoods concerns the supposed supernatural benefits of having a nice salad for lunch. Pretentious people who graduated from obscure universities want you to think this is a health-positive activity, but it’s not. Look at all that crap on the salad bar. Cheese (usually several kinds), olives, bacon, boiled eggs, and the number one artery-clogging devil product, that salad dressing. These things are dripping with fat and cholesterol. You might as well have the cheeseburger after all.

The only real way to lose weight at the salad bar is to limit yourself to just the lettuce, the celery, and the carrot shreds. Maybe a sprinkle of pepper. That’s it. And who wants to do that? You will completely lose your mind in three days on such a diet, assuming that you still have the strength at that point to even realize that you’ve gone over the edge.

It’s not worth the pain. Just eat what you want. Except for the pickled beets. Our friendship is over if you do that…


Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 05/28/13 and “Bonnywood Manor” on 11/22/13. Minutely revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

Personal Side Note to Chris at pearsnotparsnipsdotcom: You know I’m just kidding with some of the things I mention here, right? Right.

Story behind the Photo: This is a snap of a tapas plate I ordered in Ronda, Spain. It really doesn’t have anything to do with salad or bars (although I did suck down a few sangrias), but at least it involves food.


29 replies »

  1. I love salad bars and their variety. The best one I ever saw had a sign over the bar saying ‘Take as much as you like, come back as often as you like, but a 50-cent fine applies if there is anything left on your plate.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s a perfect sign, and it does get under my skin when I see folks at buffets going out of their minds with greed, loading up two or three plates at once, mountains of food that they have no intention of eating. I just want to walk up to their table and smack them… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You see, I say nice things about you, I give you a shout-out on my blog. i buy your book and then you get all spiteful and snide and I can’t read beyond your first point because I disagree so passionately and feel like this was aimed at me personally. Sunday morning just lost its smile. 😕


  3. OH NO! I love pickled beets! Does this mean we aren’t friends anymore? 😦
    I learned to love them as a child. My grandparents couldn’t afford much but beets could be grown and pickled. I even ate a pickled pigs’ foot once. I didn’t really know what it was then. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, our friendship is just fine. And pickled beets can be okay in the right situation. I once had a friend who made a tasty dish out of pickled beets, chopped pickles, chopped onion and some other things. (I’m sure the dish had a name, I just don’t recall it right now.) I’m just not a fan of those things on my salad, although I DO like pickled okra on a salad from time to time… 😉


    • Oh, you can be a Salad Girl all you want, and I enjoy being a Salad Boy, but sometimes I get a little fussy. And honestly,I might be misunderstanding what you are saying, because you’re probably being all clever and I’m just not catching it. (I’m still in awe that you were able to read Shakespeare in dual languages, whilst sitting on the water’s edge…) 😉


      • I wasn’t saying much – yet (except that there is a photo of me playing with lettuce in my About me). I just really want lettuce, so you lost me with your first thought. In my family we eat lettuce with our meals like some might drink water. I really love broccoli too. And Brussels sprouts. And Swiss chard.

        Ok, ok, done. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am not a fan of salad, I eat it at home sometimes, but all the bother of chopping things up is annoying. I LIKE the idea of it, but the reality never meets the expectations. (unlike your posts, which DO meet my expectations, and most often surpasses them) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I, too, like a good salad, but if I’m going to pay restaurant prices for it, I want someone else creating it. I feel the same with those Asian grills where you cram all the raw ingredients into a bowl and hand it off to some guy who cooks it for you. I’m just a lowly citizen with no chef training. How do I know what ingredients to use? Or what sauce will be the perfect companion?
    Some people enjoy those places. Some people are a mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Speaking from experience, I will say the pick-out-your-own mess Asian grills are perfect when you’re dragging around younger nieces and nephews. Not only do they get to “play” with the food, but they also feel like they are making it as well. (I have one particular niece who always asks to go there when she visits, although she is hurtling toward the teenage demarcation where all adults instantly become stupid and our excursions may abruptly end.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Um… so I read through the comments and did someone take offense at your lettuce comment? Or maybe they were joking and because I don’t know them, I didn’t catch on. Hope it’s the latter, but if not… well, you’re a far more experienced blogger than I am so you’re probably just fine. Have a lovely day Brian. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I definitely noticed the comment, and I’m not sure which way to take it, either. (I did have a previous experience with this same person, and I apologized, only to find out I was the target of some very-dry wit.) So, I’m letting this one marinate for now to see what may or may not transpire. And yes, you do get a thicker skin after years of doing this, although most of the time it’s just a matter of misunderstanding about how many things on my blogs should not be taken seriously. Thanks for checking in… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, there. Sorry if you briefly noticed a comment posted here that didn’t have anything to do with your own comment. (I clicked on a wrong button.) As for a dish of dressing, yes, I’ve been known to go after the dressing with just a spoon and a smile. Oopsie. 😉


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