----- Original Message -----
From: "Doug Dee" <[log in to unmask]>

> In a message dated 10/20/2004 11:32:20 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
> [log in to unmask] writes:
>>> Salad days? I've seen this expression a few times before on the list.
>>> What does
>>> it mean? How did it originate?
>>I may be wrong, and I'm going entirely on feeble memory, but I think it's
>>from Shakespeare, and specifically from Antony and Cleopatra, a comment
>>Cleopatra utters.  Or, it may be from Troilus and Cressida, and a comment
>>Cressida utters.  The idea is that you eat the salad first in a course of
>>meals for dinner that hasn't changed since medieval times.  Salad, soup,
>>entree, second entree, dessert.
> The reference is to Antony & Cleopatra, Act I Scene v line 73.
> Cleopatra says "My salad days, when I was green in judgement, cold in
> blood,
> to say as I said then!"
> I have my doubts about the explanation that the salad course comes
> first -- I
> seem to recall reading somewhere that in the 19th century, salads did not
> come first; so, the salad-first custom may not be old enough.

Yes, but they may have come first in the middle ages.  Nineteenth-century
custom may mark a departure from, not a beginning of a custom.  In Europe
the salad often comes last.  But I have a number of medieval cookbooks that
put soups and salads first.

However, seeing the whole line, I suspect it means that a salad is made from
the immature leaves of a plant.  Interestingly, it means something that has
been salted, and served cold.

> Fowler's Modern English Usage (2nd ed.) observes "whether the point is
> that
> youth, like salad, is green and raw, or that salad is highly flavoured and
> youth loves high flavors, or that innocent herbs are youth's food as milk
> is
> babes' and meat is men's, few of those who use the phrase could perhaps
> tell us."
> Doug