A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 10, 2010
“It takes four persons to dress a salad…”

Richard Ford’s Gatherings from Spain contained a Spanish proverb for salad:

“One thing, however, is truly delicious in Spain—the salad, to compound which, says the Spanish proverb, four persons are wanted: a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counsellor for salt, and a madman to stir it all up.”

The proverb made several 1850s cookery books and has still remained popular. It is not known what the original Spanish source was—or what any Spanish language version is. By at least 1941, the proverb’s opening became: “It takes four men to make a salad.” The “counsellor for salt” is often replaced with a “sage for salt” or a “diplomat for salt.”


Google Books
Gatherings from Spain
By Richard Ford
London: John Murray
1846
Pg. 133:
One thing, however, is truly delicious in Spain—the salad, to compound which, says the Spanish proverb, four persons are wanted: a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counsellor for salt, and a madman to stir it all up.

Google Books
The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers
By Abraham Hayward
London: John Murray
1852
Pg. 116:
According to the Spanish proverb, four persons are wanted to make a good salad: a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counsellor for salt, and a madman to stir all up.

17 November 1853, New York (NY) Daily Times, “Literary Gossip at Home and Abroad,” pg. 2:
“Salad for the Solitary” is, in fact, rather a quaint than a happy title for such a book as this before us. We are not aware that solitude has any particular fondness for salads: but rather the contrary, if there be any truth in the Spanish proverb: that it requires four persons to mix a good one, a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counsellor for salt, and a madman to stir it all up.

Google Books
September 1869, Putnam’s Magazine, pg. 375, col. 2:
It has been happily said that to dress a salad successfully, we require four persons: a sage for the salt, a miser for the vinegar, a spendthrift for the oil, and a maniac for the mixing.

Google Books
Mrs. Roundell’s Practical Cookery Book:
With many family recipes hitherto unpublished

By Mrs. Roundell
London: Bickers
1898
Pg. 374:
As to Salad-dressing, the old Spanish saying holds good still. “Be a Sage with salt, a Miser with the vinegar, a Spendthrift with the oil, and a Maniac with the working of the dressing.”

Google Books
15 July 1915, The Mixer and Server, pg. 30, col. 2:
It is believed that it takes four people rolled in one to make a salad properly. A sage to put in the salt, so that only a soupcon is secured. With the mustard and pepper suppression should also be observed. A miser is required for the vinegar.

11 October 1929, New York (NY) Times, “Spanish Cookery,” letters, pg. 27:
...I would refer to Richard Ford, who in his well-known book, “Gatherings from Spain,” devotes several pages to Spanish food. Here are some quotations:
(...)
“One thing is truly delicious in Spain—the salad, to compound which, says the Spanish proverb, four persons are wanted—a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counselor for salt and a madman to stir it all up.”
FRANCISCO PINOL.
New London, Conn, Oct. 7, 1929.

27 July 1941, New York (NY) Times, pg. SM15 ad:
IT TAKES
FOUR MEN
TO MAKE
A SALAD
Says an old Spanish proverb. “A spendtrhift for oil, a miser for veingar, a counsellor for salt, and a madman to stir them all up.”
(Lea & Perrins Sauce—ed.)

18 November 1951, New York (NY) Times, pg. SM2:
“According to the Spanish proverb, four persons are wanted to make a good salad: a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counselor for salt, and a madman to sir it all up.”
-- Abraham Hayward.

Google Books
Herbs for use and for delight:
An anthology from the Herbarist, a publication of the Herb Society of America

By Daniel J. Foley
New York, NY: Dover Publications
1974
Pg. 230:
According to the French prescription use olive oil like a wastrel, vinegar like a miser, salt and pepper like a sage.

Google Books
20,000 Quips & Quotes
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books
1995, ©1968
Pg. 696:
In making a salad, become a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a diplomat for salt, and a maniac for mixing.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Wednesday, November 10, 2010 • Permalink