Recipe for a Salad

Original Text: 
The Letters of Sydney Smith, Vol. II, ed. Nowell C. Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953): 684. PR 5458 A4 1953 Robarts Library. This copy is reprinted "from an early MS. copy made for S.'s friend Dr. Chambers ... kindly lent me [Nowell Smith] by his descendant, Miss Irene Chambers" (p. 684).
2The pounded yellow of two hard-boil'd eggs;
4Smoothness and softness to the salad give.
6And, half-suspected, animate the whole.
8Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;
9But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault
10To add a double quantity of salt;
12And twice with vinegar procur'd from town;
13And lastly o'er the flavour'd compound toss
15Oh, green and glorious! Oh, herbaceous treat!
16Twould tempt the dying anchorite to eat;
17Back to the world he'd turn his fleeting soul,
18And plunge his fingers in the salad-bowl!
19Serenely full, the epicure would say,
20`Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today.'


1] In a letter to Lady Holland in 1839, Smith gives the recipe for this salad. It follows the poem except that at the close Smith instructs her, "Mix the Salad thoroughly just before it is used" (The Letters of Sydney Smith, Vol. II, ed. Nowell C. Smith [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953]: 684).condiment: "Anything of pronounced flavour used to season or give relish to food, or to stimulate the appetite" (OED), but here a dish in and of itself. Back to Line
3] seive: sieve. Back to Line
5] atoms: small chopped-up pieces. Smith's receipe for Lady Holland specifies "1/2 a Tea Spoon of onion chopped very fine." Back to Line
7] mordant: `biting,' that is, hot to the taste. Back to Line
11] Lucca: olive oil named after a northern city and province of Italy. Back to Line
14] soupçon: the smallest amount, a mere "suspicion" or trace. Back to Line
Publication Notes: 
Widely circulated in manuscript form.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: