Iceberg Lettuce: Making a Comeback?

Probably not in my kitchen

All these recent articles about iceberg lettuce are cracking me up. And making me wonder if I’m missing something. I first read about iceberg making a comeback in Saveur magazine last year around this time. A big chunk of the article covers the history of iceberg, which is actually kind of interesting. Iceberg has kept coming up since then, especially in the last month. Tiffany has had a recent iceberg experience too. The latest Minimalist article talks about “loser lettuces” and this post on epicurious is a response to that article.

Unfortunately or not, iceberg in salads turns my stomach. I discovered full-meal salads at restaurants when I was 10 or so, and I went through a phase of only ordering salads when our family went out to eat (not that that was often). Once, I ordered a mostly iceberg salad with Ranch dressing and before I could finish it, I had to rush off to the bathroom and “puke,” as I probably would have said then. Not suprisingly, I don’t eat Ranch dressing anymore either.

The photo that goes with this recipe for iceberg lettuce with Thousand Island dressing, which is currently featured in a gallery on the “front page” of Saveur’s website, isn’t helping matters. Click if you dare! I absolutely dread the little iceberg salad with one slice of limp cucumber, a few dry carrot shreds and one wedge of unripe tomato – with Ranch dressing of course – served on planes. Especially since it’s usually the only thing I can get down, if only just barely.

There is one exception: I like it when iceberg is served on plates of Tex-Mex food (though cabbage is great too). I love those forkfuls of refried beans, rice and iceberg. The lettuce adds just the right crisp freshness, but the beans usually do a pretty good job of masking its flavor and coating my stomach.

Maybe the secret is to eat iceberg in hot dishes? I am sort of curious about using it in stir-fries, but 1) a whole head is a lot of lettuce for one person to eat if you don’t like it and 2) I’m kind of embarrassed to buy it!

Comments

7 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. Your description of airplane salad conjures the smell and taste of it, and makes me gag. I was served it exactly that way three or four times in the course of my journey last month.

    I think the real problem with iceberg is also its greatest advantage: it is desirably durable; unfortunately it gets rank before it goes brown. Airlines and others can’t tell by looking whether the lettuce has turned disgusting.

    That said* I too really like iceberg lettuce with Tex-Mex even though I proclaim to mostly hate it most of the time. I also like it in chunks in a Greek salad, still crunchy but shiny with lemon and oil. And what better lettuce for a BLT or club sandwich? I think the lesson here is it has its place, but it’s no real winner even if it’s not the loser we’ve been labeling it as.

    ps: that epicurious article is delightful.
    pps: I can’t say “that said” anymore without thinking of that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

  2. Greek salad and BLTs? Really? I much prefer romaine in Greek salad and green leaf lettuce on sandwiches.