Does a salad always have to be served on a salad plate and eaten with a salad fork? If bread forms part of the salad, does the bread always have to be in the form of croutons? As far as I am concerned, the answers are no and no. I like variety.
So, a couple of nights ago, when Speedy asked what we were having for dinner, I said “taco salad.” I told him I’d put salad vegetables on a warmed tortilla and top them with pan fried slices of beef. He asked what the dressing would be and I said sour cream and chili sauce. And he was happy.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have sour cream. We didn’t even have cream so I could whip up some homemade sour cream. It turned out that I used all the cream in the house when I made dulce de leche ice cream (which was too sweet so I have to do a take two before I can write about it).
So how did I make good on my promise that the taco salad would have sour cream and chili sauce? I didn’t. But the dressing was tangy and spicy so, at least, I didn’t short-change him and his expectations to eat something that had sour and spicy notes. You don’t do that to Speedy — tell him you’re having one thing then serve something else. His mother told me a long time ago about that particular trait of her son. When you tell him he’s going to eat a particular dish, he imagines and anticipates and builds up a sort of gastronomic suspense. And if you kill the suspense by serving something else, he sulks.
So, there. At the very least, I had to make good on the “sour” and “spicy.” How? I improvised, of course. I took whatever was in the fridge and pantry and used them — including mayo, olive oil, lemon rind and juice, onion, garlic, dried herbs and finely chopped fresh bird’s eye chili. »