A long time ago, when I was in my early thirties, I bought a Lilith Fair CD and heard a duet with Sarah McLachan and Emmylou Harris. I was blown away by her voice. Now that I am decidedly in my forties, I still listen to Emmylou and was excited to see her at Chatauqua this summer. However, dinner before Big Top concerts always present a challenge for me— we have to be in the car on our way to the hill by 7:30ish. This is a problem for me, my meals like to hit the table about 8:30 or so. Salads are about the only thing I have a half a chance to get on the table before we have to leave.
The other Maven, Arthur Schwartz, has the original Cobb salad dressing recipe from the Brown Derby, along with the history of this illustrious salad, on his website. According to Arthur, Bob Cobb, the owner of the Brown Derby, was hungry late one night after service and went through his walk-in refrigerator looking for something to eat. The funny thing about a restaurant kitchen is there is very little to grab and eat late at night and the last thing anyone wants to do is turn on the oven or start a fire in the grill after everything is cleaned up. Another funny thing is that if you are in the kitchen looking for something to eat late at night, you are definitely not thinking about lettuce. I bet this is why the Cobb salad bears very little resemblance to a healthy and virtuous salad. Bob had been working all night and he wanted something that would stick to his bones. Adding bacon, cheese, avocado, hard-boiled eggs and potatoes to a pile of greens makes perfect sense to me.
I made two changes to Arthur's recipe— I substituted arugula for the watercress and chicory and I tossed the potatoes, while they were still warm, with olive oil, Maldon sea salt and chopped preserved lemons. Otherwise, I stuck to the recipe and it was perfect. I bet Emmylou would like my Cobb salad.
Emmylou was great—she has a magnificent soulful voice and is an amazing guitarist. I kept watching her hands, flying up and down her guitar, and thinking about all the life they have seen and the music they have made. Seems like a fairly innocent observation, right? Well, we had the opportunity to meet her after the show and I blurted out, 'I love your hands'. She looked at me like I was either nuts or had a hand fetish. I continued shoving my foot down my throat and mumbled something about her hands having beautiful life in them and that was that. She graciously agreed to take a picture with me and I decided to have a few rational and witty talking points next time I meet a musical legend.