On Salad Bars

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I've been thinking about salad bars lately. See, after I returned from my Thanksgiving trip to the midwest, where all it seemed like I did was eat heavy, hearty meals, I needed something that was light, green and healthy.

As soon as my boyfriend and I got back from the airport and unpacked our luggage, we headed over to the closest Whole Foods to peruse their expansive salad bar. I have to say, I love the idea of salad bars. They're kind of very 70's and I find the sneeze guard to be an awkward but necessary evil, and yet I still quite like salad bars. You stand there, plastic carton in hand and let the ingredients guide you down the line.

A little of this, a lot of that, I'll pass on whatever that is, and then a little sprinkling of this over here. So many choices. It's the only time any of us ever create a meal in public and it's interesting to see what other people come up with.

However the reality of most salad bars is a little less enticing. Tubs of iceberg lettuce or romaine. Thawed bags of peas and corn. Canned beets. Unimaginative range of bottled salad dressings. I've never really understood why so many salad bars have pudding as an option. And what is the point of baby corn? Seriously. Who actually likes baby corn? I just wish the ingredients on salad bars were better and more seasonal. I would have loved some roasted squash, pepitas and dried cranberries, pumpernickel croutons and perhaps a little goat cheese. What I had to choose from was thawed corn and rubbery hard boiled eggs. I honestly expected more from Whole Foods.

After I paid for my salad and got ready to dig in, I was horrified by my hideous creation. My salad was a mess, a hodgepodge. It looked like a dog's breakfast. I think a lot of us probably do this. When presented with so many options, we go overboard and the results are a bit, unfocused, let's say. If we saw this salad in a restaurant, we'd never order it.

How often do you go to a salad bar? Do you load up on everything you see or do you maintain focus? What local salad bar do you love? Better yet, what would be on your ultimate salad bar?

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