This comparison, however, between the methods of preparing salads according to the English and the French fashion is not quite complete, and consequently it will be advisable to refer to one or two other matters, of which it is necessary to be apprised in order to produce a perfect salad. In the first place, the form of the salad bowl itself is very important, for it will readily be apparent that it must be of such a shape as to facilitate the complete blending of the oil and vinegar with the materials used. That which is nearest to half a perfect sphere is by far the best; and another essential is that it should be of sufficient size to afford room for free manipulation. On looking in the windows one is fairly astonished at the diversity of shapes that are exposed for sale. In most of them the floor of the bowl is flat, with a sort of recess all round its margin. This, of course, is most ill-adapted for the purpose for which it is intended. Nearly all of them, again, are by far too small; it is impossible to mix a salad properly in a vessel very little larger than a soup plate. So that in the selection of a salad bowl see that it is the nearest approach to half a perfect sphere in shape, and take care that it is roomy enough for freely working the salad. Lastly, do not waste money on the meretricious ornamental work which besets so many of the bowls exposed for sale. A very good substitute can be made in the ordinary large earthenware basin used in the kitchen, the deeper the better, which will be found to answer every purpose, and its cost brings it within the reach of every purse. Next, with regard to the servers, these are usually supplied with the bowl, but wooden servers are considered by many to be the best, and their low price is certainly no drawback. The oil, too, must be the purest you can buy, and Crosse and Blackwell's is as good as any; at least, I do not know of a better oil at present, as it is sweet and without the slightest suspicion of rankness. So, too, with regard to vinegar : pay a little more for a good article, and you will have no cause to regret it. The best French, or Crosse and Blackwell's white wine vinegar, is good enough for anybody. You will find that the oil and the vinegar will last a long time, and that the cost of making a salad is actually the veriest trifle. In making a plain lettuce salad such as has been described, you will, of course, have to do without the chopped herbs, because, unfortunately, we in Australia have not risen to the necessity for their cultivation, but you can make shift with small pieces of celery, which taste admirably in the salad, or little bits of radish, or thin slices of cucumber - whatever, in fact, happens to be in season.
There is a remarkable condition of affairs obtaining in Sydney, and the same applies to the other metropolitan centres of Australia. On turning up our directory for the current year it will be found on reference that the number of butchers for the city and suburbs is nearly 600. On the other hand, the number of those whose calling is given as that of greengrocer does not reach 300. Now, it is not to be denied that a goodly proportion of vegetables are sold by dealers whose address is not to be found under the latter heading. Nevertheless, it is still a significant fact that while many of the butchers' establishments possess quite an attractive and inviting appearance, on the contrary those devoted to the sale of greengrocery are represented by dingy-looking places, and by a collection of faded vegetables which seem always to be apologising for being on view at all. The show of meat which is to be found in our Australian capitals is certainly worthy of any city in the world, and if the display of vegetables were only equal to it, as it assuredly should be, there would be at least something on which we might congratulate ourselves.
Another fact which is equally to be deplored with this small display of vegetables seen throughout the city is the few varieties which are cultivated. In a former chapter attention was drawn to the nutritious properties and exquisite flavour of many vegetables which are easily grown, but which are most unaccountably passed over, and it will be remembered that the tomato was instanced in particular as having a desperate struggle for existence, and that it was years and years before it was finally received into favour. Similarly in the case of salad plants there is the same matter for complaint, and beyond the ordinary cabbage lettuce, celery, cucumbers, and radishes, there is nothing grown. And yet there ought to be inducement enough for many of our young men to devote themselves to such a healthy occupation as market gardening, with profit to themselves and with benefit to the community. The market gardens around Paris, although small, are cultivated to perfection. The French market gardeners, moreover, are, as a rule, a very prosperous class; they keep to themselves, and marry among themselves. On making inquiries from the leading seedsmen throughout Australia, and asking what varieties of salad plants are mostly in vogue, you find that the cabbage lettuce is almost the sole representative. And thus it is that in the very climate where the system calls for salads, so to speak, there is absolutely no attempt made to supply a crying want. A brief reference to a few of these salad plants will better illustrate the importance of their culture. Here, as with the different vegetables, I applied to headquarters for information, namely, to Mr. F. Turnen, of the Department of Agriculture, Sydney, who once more came to my assistance and courteously indicated the localities in which they are likely to do well. And it only seems fitting and appropriate here to remark that Australia's road to prosperity lies through her agriculture; the hydrocephalic growth visible in every colony is unnatural and needs rectification.
Of this there are two varieties, the ordinary cabbage lettuce and the cos, so named from the Island of Cos in the AEgean Sea, which is also known as the upright, or smooth-leaved lettuce. Although this latter is to be obtained, yet in nine cases out of ten only the cabbage lettuce is procurable. But, as a matter of fact, the upright or smooth-leaved cos lettuce is of a more delicate flavour, and when grown properly by having the leaves loosely tied together at the top about ten days before cutting, it is more crisp and juicy, and better adapted for saladings. In the old country, too, the cos variety, with its long leaves, is common enough, and is there preferred to the cabbage lettuce. It is to be regretted, therefore, that we see so little of it.