Existential Stuff

REMARKABLE INFORMATION! How The Cobb Salad Was Born in Brooklyn!

February 3, 2014

I wanted to share with you a terrific Brooklyn story – The Remarkable Creation of the Cobb Salad!

Well, it starts at our very own Hotel St. George in 1936!   The hotel’s world famous chef, Ennis Shalit (yes, the uncle of beloved movie critic Gene Shalit!) was playin’ around with some leftovers in the kitchen, and he came up with the idea of mixing some meat with some greens!  He liked where this was going, and he topped it off with a vinaigrette-based dressing he had previously concocted for another salad popular at the hotel, The Luscious Lehman (named for the then-governor of New York — unfortunately, the recipe for that specialty has been lost to history, but apparently bacon-wrapped scallops were involved!  Yum!).  Now, ol’ Ennis was a history buff (later in his life, he authored a biography of Willem Verhults, the second governor of Dutch New Amsterdam), and upon seeing the finished salad, he commented, “Sure tastes good, but it looks like a bloody mess!  It reminds me of Colonel DeKalb after he was bayoneted by the British at the Battle of Camden.”

A few days later, Shalit’s brand new DeKalb Salad went on sale in the Hotel’s world-famous Pineapple Street Café.  It was a big hit!  People came from as far away as Albany and Trenton to try the new culinary creation!  But when they ordered Shalit’s creation, waitresses (including a young actress named Joyce Randolph, later to be Brooklyn’s much beloved Trixie Norton!) would write down the name of the salad wrong; even if the menu said “DeKalb Salad”, the wait staff would hear patrons sayin’ “Gimme de Cobb salad,” and that’s what they would write down on their order pads!  Under the old adage that the customer is always right, only eight weeks after the DeKalb Salad went on sale, the Café’s owners, over Shalit’s fierce, even violent objections, renamed the dish The Cobb Salad.  And that’s how a much beloved dish, famous all over the world, was born!

There’s a funny footnote to this story: In 1956, Shalit published his biography of Verhults, but due to certain insinuations he made in the book about the character of Peter Stuyvesant (the 7th Dutch governor of ol’ Manhattan), Dutch Peter’s descendants sued the pants off of Ennis, and they won!  Ennis Shalit died a bitter, broken man in a bowery flophouse in 1964.

And now, THE THREE-DOT ROUNDUP!  Very excited to see that the Heights’ own Paul Giamatti will be starring in The Mario Biaggi Story…When I hear the words ‘Super Bowl’, I only picture one man, and his name is Joe Willie Namath…If you’re a fan of old timey radio (like me!) and a fan of Brooklyn 99 (like me!), you might remember a show on the CBS Radio Network called 21st Precinct, starring the immortal Edward Everett Sloane …Speaking of ol’ E.E. Sloane, how many actors can YOU name that starred in films directed by BOTH Orson Welles and Jerry Lewis? Sloane was lensed by big Orson in Citizen Kane, and the King of Comedy in The Patsy…A recent poll by the BLGBBCCTVAS (the Brooklyn Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Bi-Curious Classic TV Appreciation Society) named Lost In Space’s Dr. Zachary Smith the gayest fictional character in TV history…On January 28, Community Board 3 in Manhattan voted NOT to rename a street corner on the Lower East Side after our very own Beastie Boys, and I, for one, think that’s bullspit!  Out here in the Heights, we happily renamed a park after our “homie” Adam YauchAND THAT’S WHY I LOVE LIVING IN BROOKLYN! 

(Mr. Sommer’s opinions and grasp of reality are entirely his own)

Tim Sommer has been employed to varying degrees of gainfulness as a musician, record producer, DJ, VJ, and music industry executive.   He is currently working on his monograph analyzing the work of actor Huntz Hall from a semiotic perspective, and he continues his efforts to get Mets southpaw Jon Matlack into the Baseball Hall of Fame.




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