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Re: OT: Salad Days, was Re: Borrowing Wordlist

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Thursday, October 21, 2004, 4:46
----- Original Message -----
From: "Doug Dee" <AmateurLinguist@...>

> In a message dated 10/20/2004 11:32:20 AM Eastern Daylight Time, > scaves@FRONTIERNET.NET writes: > >>> Salad days? I've seen this expression a few times before on the list. >>> What does >>> it mean? How did it originate? > >>I may be wrong, and I'm going entirely on feeble memory, but I think it's >>from Shakespeare, and specifically from Antony and Cleopatra, a comment >>Cleopatra utters. Or, it may be from Troilus and Cressida, and a comment >>Cressida utters. The idea is that you eat the salad first in a course of >>meals for dinner that hasn't changed since medieval times. Salad, soup, >>entree, second entree, dessert. > > The reference is to Antony & Cleopatra, Act I Scene v line 73. > Cleopatra says "My salad days, when I was green in judgement, cold in > blood, > to say as I said then!" > > I have my doubts about the explanation that the salad course comes > first -- I > seem to recall reading somewhere that in the 19th century, salads did not > come first; so, the salad-first custom may not be old enough.
Yes, but they may have come first in the middle ages. Nineteenth-century custom may mark a departure from, not a beginning of a custom. In Europe the salad often comes last. But I have a number of medieval cookbooks that put soups and salads first. However, seeing the whole line, I suspect it means that a salad is made from the immature leaves of a plant. Interestingly, it means something that has been salted, and served cold.
> Fowler's Modern English Usage (2nd ed.) observes "whether the point is > that > youth, like salad, is green and raw, or that salad is highly flavoured and > youth loves high flavors, or that innocent herbs are youth's food as milk > is > babes' and meat is men's, few of those who use the phrase could perhaps > tell us." > > Doug
Thanks! Sally