If, like me, you have wondered what happened to all the salad bars in the world, you'll be glad to know that I found them on a recent spring break trip through Virginia and North Carolina. The remaining salad bars lurk in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, where all the three-bean medleys and marinated mushrooms have migrated and consolidated, perhaps in preparation for a great preserved-vegetable Armageddon, when they will rise up from beneath their sneeze guards, carrying swords of stale won tons and shields of pickled beets, and march across beds of crushed ice and curly parsley to attack the weaker legions of perishable foods, squashing them into a soggy morass of limp leafy greens.
Needless to say, while I was delighted to a find a surfeit of salad bars on my recent spring break march between Nashville and the Surrendering Grounds at Appomattox, Va., I was disappointed by the dearth of actual vegetables on them. Desperate for something not deep-fried or corn-based, I made do with some lettuce, broccoli and a sprinkling of raisins, sunflower seeds and carrot strips, with a drizzle of red wine vinegar. If not exactly a culinary triumph, at least it was a dietary bullet dodged.
But here's my question: If you could build your own salad bar, what would you include? Once we get a list, we can start to launch a counterinsurgency.