Its classic…its fresh…its meaty…it’s the Cobb Salad.
It was invented in 1939 by the owner of the famous Hollywood restaurant, the Brown Derby. How can anything bad come out of a restaurant shaped like a hat? As the story goes, the owner (Robert Cobb, or Bob Cobb for short) was “prowling hungrily” in the kitchen in the middle of the night, taking bits and pieces of leftovers out of the fridge willy-nilly and throwing them together into a bowl. Topped with a red wine vinaigrette, it was the perfect midnight snack. He shared it with a guest, who was so impressed that when he came into the restaurant the next day, he ordered the “cobb salad”. It soon became a signature dish of the ol’ BD, which has sold over 4 million to date. More information on its history can be found here (which by the way is where the photo came from).
This salad is not to be confused with a chef’s salad, whose origins lie in the early 17th century and similarly contains meats and boiled eggs. The major difference is that good ol’ cobby has avocado which became popular in North America thanks to the invention of California Cuisine. Can you tell I’ve really done my research for this post?
There are probably about 4 million variations, but the typical Cobb Salad consists of salad greens topped with “rows” of diced tomatoes, cooked chicken, bacon, hard boiled egg, chives, blue cheese and avocado, with a classic french dressing.
I usually change it up a little, which makes me a bit nervous ever since watching the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where a dining guest scoffs in disgust when Larry orders a Cobb Salad with substitutions. The diner turns out to be Cliff Cobb, of Cobb Salad Fame, and hates it when people make substitutions. Larry David, in true form, responds: “You know, my grandfather’s name was Harold Bingo, and he invented the game “Bingo.” Anyway, back to my variations. I like to use baby spinach and mixed greens, halved cherry tomatoes and blue cheese dressing rather than chunks of blue cheese. Oh, and I prefer a 4 minute egg, so the yolk is still kind of soft and runny. I had some lovely lettuce from the pack of Artisan Lettuces that I regularly stock up on at the market. It contains 4 baby heads of lettuce and is fresh and crunchy – much better than your run-of-the-mill spring mix. See how the top is purple and the bottom green? Sigh. So pretty.