As Northern Ireland sweltered in its two-day summer earlier this week, many of us will have felt the compulsion to rustle up a salad.
Perhaps it included some fancy Dan ingredients like hummus, rocket, kale and a few olives. Or maybe we opted for the type of bog-standard salad that used to be served up across homes in Northern Ireland every summer as soon as the temperature spiked at 19C and it was ‘too hot’ for anything else.
Although there were slight variations, the basis of the humble salad was a few cursory lettuce leaves, not Cos, not Iceberg, but ordinary lettuce, the type beloved by bunnies. Really, the greenery was there out of obligation, more than anything else, and to act as a receptacle for tinned potato salad. Next up ham rolled into scrolls to make it look fancy.
There’d be an egg boiled to within an inch of its life and left to cool so that an ominous-looking green ring formed around the yolk. It could be cut in half, or placed into an egg guillotine and sliced.
Tomatoes quartered and covered in salt. Scallions either cut with scissors and sprinkled over the top, or left whole by the more avant garde mammy. And a stack of grated cheese. Cheddar, or Red Leicester at a push.
Corrugated beetroot from a jar wasn’t essential, but was a nice addition. And the final ingredient.....lashings of Heinz Salad Cream, the bottle languishing in the fridge until the following ‘summer’ when we’d repeat the culinary salad tradition.