This Is Where The Word Salad Comes From

Salad is a dish that its popularity only continues to rise. According to Study Finds, Americans eat an average of four salads a week with Generation Z more likely to eat salad as a main dish than older generations. Jon Neman, CEO of the innovative salad chain Sweetgreen, told The Atlantic in 2015 that salads were becoming increasingly mainstream. In the years since that interview, the chain has expanded considerably and plans to open its first digital-only location in Washington, D.C., according to Restaurant Dive.

Salads have traditionally been associated with luxury in American culture, as Insider reports. Food Timeline states that salads first started to become popular in the United States at the end of the 19th century. It was during this time that such creative inventions as gelatin or Jell-O salads were developed. The Atlantic notes that, at the time, Jell-O salads were considered a sign of wealth because they required a refrigerator to chill the ingredients. Other popular salads included concoctions featuring cottage cheese and dairy. However, over time, tastes changed and Americans began to prefer the lighter, greener salads that we know today.

But where did salads originate and what is the etymology behind the word "salad"? Turns out the dish dates back thousands of years and that the origin of the word references salad's ancient beginnings.

Salads date back thousands of years

As per Etymology Online, the word originated from the Latin "salata," which means "salted." This is also the root of the French word "salade," and German "salat," among others.

But why salt? According to Food Timeline, this is a reference to Roman salad dressings, which were typically made with a combination of oil, salt, and vinegar. These early salads were likely pretty close to the ones we eat today. They included ingredients like lettuce, which was first cultivated by the Greeks and later by the Romans, who introduced it to Britain (per Food Timeline). According to HuffPost, Aristotle praised Swiss Chard for its health benefits, and Hippocrates recommended eating vegetables before meals. Don't be fooled, though — the popularity of salad in ancient Rome doesn't mean that Caesar salad had anything to do with the Roman emperor. The salad was named after its inventor, Italian chef Caesar Cardini, as per the BBC.