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Do You Eat Your Salad Before or After Your Main Entree?

treb Oct 10, 2013 08:19 AM

I've been all over and have to say that I've had salad both ways. In some cases, I've really enjoyed my salad after my entrée. Not sure if it's more family tradition.

How about you? Are you a salad before or after and why?

  1. emglow101 Oct 10, 2013 08:22 AM

    Neither.I like my salad on my dinner plate and eat it together with my meal.

    1. melpy Oct 10, 2013 08:33 AM

      Depends. The Italian side if the family eats it after. At home we eat it in the same plate but I usually eat it first because it isn't very good. At a restaurant I enjoy it before my meal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: melpy
        treb Oct 10, 2013 08:42 AM

        I have to say the same for my Italian family, most before but, some after.

      2. j
        John Francis Oct 10, 2013 08:37 AM

        At the same time.

        1. b
          Beach Chick Oct 10, 2013 08:59 AM

          I'm a salad chick..
          I've enjoyed before and after the entrée.. depends on the dish.
          I've made some fab salads as my entree..friends say that I do salads like nobody else.
          Guess I got that going for me, which is nice.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Beach Chick
            treb Oct 10, 2013 04:13 PM

            Nothing like a fresh crisp salad with an awesome dressing. Lately, I've been enjoying grilled romaine with a drizzle of EVOO and aged balsamic.

          2. viperlush Oct 10, 2013 09:22 AM

            At home after. In restaurants before while others eat apps.

            1. h
              Harters Oct 10, 2013 10:16 AM

              Salad would be an integral part of a course (starter or main). Serving a separate salad course just seems odd to me - not what happens in my culture (or of those in countries I regularly visit).

              1. c
                Clams047 Oct 10, 2013 10:24 AM

                At home, we serve the salad with the main course, but mostly tend to have it after the entree.

                In restaurants, it's typically a way to spend time waiting for the main course to arrive as we rarely order appetizers anymore (99% of which seem to be the same deep fried and/or overly common mediocre items very unworthy of their calorie count) .

                1. linguafood Oct 10, 2013 10:55 AM

                  Before and with.

                  1. macca Oct 10, 2013 11:05 AM

                    I have company for dinner most every Sunday ( family), and we serve dinner family style. The salad is put on the table with the dinner, and most everyone eats the salad after they eat their dinner. had to stop and think about this!

                    1. g
                      Gloriaa Oct 10, 2013 11:10 AM

                      At home I eat it with my meal unless I am hosting a dinner party then it is always served after. IMO when salad is served after a meal it is usually a palate cleanser and it is usually a plain green salad with a nice tart vinaigrette with some shallots-no bacon, cheese or nuts and definitely no sweet dressing or crispy croutons/tortillas/crispy noodles.. If I eat it at a restaurant, I usually eat it first and it may contain extras, such as fruit or cheese.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Gloriaa
                        treb Oct 11, 2013 08:10 AM

                        I've had those simple salads after a meal, just as you describe as a palate cleanser. It does work.

                      2. fldhkybnva Oct 10, 2013 12:34 PM

                        For some reason, I eat my veggies, including salad, before the main entree. Well, usually I eat 3/4 of the veggies, then 3/4 of the meat and finish it off in the same order. My parents were never very strict about eating veggies first so not sure where I picked this up from.

                        1. monavano Oct 10, 2013 12:56 PM

                          I'm surprised to see how many others say "at the same time". That's mainly how we ate growing up. It was in a separate salad bowl, but there during the meal, generally not before.
                          Now, with DH, I've been pushing gently to serve it with the meal, separate bowl or same plate.
                          It's just SO much easier for me from a timing standpoint. I don't like sitting down and enjoying my salad, then having to pop back up and do the a la minute stuff, then plate, sit down and pick up the meal.
                          He's coming around to it ;-)
                          If I have a casserole, or braise that's just waiting there while we enjoy our salads, then sure, we'll eat that before. But again, not a general rule.
                          Never after, but that's just habit and I'd do in Rome when in Rome.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: monavano
                            Harters Oct 10, 2013 02:23 PM

                            I've never been served a salad course in Rome, or anywhere else in Italy for that matter.

                            1. re: Harters
                              monavano Oct 10, 2013 02:50 PM

                              You're joking, right? Please say yes!

                              1. re: monavano
                                Harters Oct 11, 2013 02:19 AM

                                Of course, I'm not joking. Why would I be joking?

                                You simply do not see separate salad courses in Italy. Salads as a starter, of course. Salad accompanying a main course, yes. But a separate course, no, never seen such on a menu; never been served one.

                                FWIW, in several trips over the last 7 - 8 years, we've visited Rome, Pisa, Venice, Lake Garda, Capri and Lucca - so the lack of a salad course seems to be quite widespread in the country. In fact,
                                I can't think of a single country that I visit regularly where a separate salad course is served in a restaurant, with the exception of America.

                                1. re: Harters
                                  monavano Oct 11, 2013 05:33 AM

                                  OK, the expression goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do".
                                  So, if I were in a restaurant, home or culture that ate salad after the meal, I wouldn't mind it and would do it that way.

                                  It wasn't a literal reference to eating in Rome.

                                  1. when in rome
                                  The full phrase is "When in Rome, do as the Roman's do." But it has become shortened so often, some people don't get it anymore. It's an analogy making use of the strict rule of the ancient Roman empire, and synonomous with "Going with the flow," or doing something because everyone else is doing it.

                                  I hope that helps you understand the expression that I used. I think with this point of reference, you can understand what I was conveying in my post.
                                  Another reference for you:

                                  1. re: monavano
                                    Harters Oct 11, 2013 07:05 AM

                                    Wow. Who would have thought it, eh? Thanks for the explanation.

                                    So, when you asked if I was joking, you didnt really think I was joking? It was just one of those Roman things?

                                    "Non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum"

                                    1. re: Harters
                                      monavano Oct 11, 2013 10:42 AM

                                      12 years of Catholic school and a good dose of human anatomy and I'm still unable to understand!
                                      It's a Lost in Translation moment!

                                      1. re: monavano
                                        treb Oct 11, 2013 11:22 AM

                                        Curious, how many times did the Nuns beat your knuckles with a ruler?

                                  2. re: Harters
                                    sandylc Oct 12, 2013 10:26 PM

                                    I'm confused (or maybe just ignorant?). Isn't a starter a separate course?

                                    1. re: sandylc
                                      Harters Oct 13, 2013 02:35 AM

                                      Yes, a starter is a separate course, as I posted upthread.

                                      Would Americans regard a salad course as a starter? I was presuming not, as I've only ever been served one there as an additional course (after the starter and before the main course).

                              2. re: monavano
                                Gloriaa Oct 10, 2013 03:01 PM

                                I love my salad with any kind of braise gravy, sauce...I love hot and cold but understand this is very polarizing so would serve salad on a separate plate.

                                1. re: Gloriaa
                                  monavano Oct 10, 2013 03:10 PM

                                  Makes total sense that an acidic dressing would cut the fatty richness of braises.
                                  I love the combos too; acid with fattiness and hot and cold.

                                2. re: monavano
                                  treb Oct 10, 2013 04:17 PM

                                  When at home, I like putting olives in the salad then after all have consumed their share, I hunt for straggling olives.

                                3. r
                                  Redstickchef Oct 10, 2013 02:33 PM

                                  I enjoy eating my salad before my meal. I think growing up and going to family dinners where the first course was not accompanied by the salad has something to do with this.

                                  1. pinehurst Oct 10, 2013 02:54 PM

                                    At home, always after the meal (or as BeachChick said, as the meal).

                                    Sometimes before when dining out.

                                    1. Cherylptw Oct 10, 2013 04:02 PM

                                      At home, I put it on the table with the other food; I may eat it first or last, depending on how much I want it.

                                      On the other end of the spectrum, I can't imagine eating a salad after I've had several other courses. There would be no room.

                                      1. cayjohan Oct 10, 2013 04:05 PM

                                        My preference is "at the same time." I loves leaves+protein and that is how I eat at home. Dining out, I generally opt for a salad to start for timing issues with others who are ordering appetizers, but will often ask the server to leave the salad plate so I can enjoy it with my main course. At home, we also set out a cheese and fruit plate "later" in the evening as a dessert, and that plate invariably has a pile of salad greens leaves on it for nibbling.

                                        So I suppose I am mainly a During and After, with wiggle room on the Before front depending upon circumstances.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: cayjohan
                                          treb Oct 10, 2013 04:12 PM

                                          Agree, at a restaurant I always ask for the salad to be left on the table for me.

                                          1. re: cayjohan
                                            linguafood Oct 10, 2013 07:42 PM

                                            Which is why I *hate* it when I keep some salad (which inevitably is served as an appetizer or along with other starters) to have with my main at a restaurant, and the waiter tries to take it. "You still 'workin' on that?" "Why, yes. Please go away and leave my salad."

                                            1. re: linguafood
                                              treb Oct 11, 2013 08:07 AM

                                              Don't you just hate those pushy wait staff that want to spoil your enjoyment?

                                              1. re: treb
                                                linguafood Oct 11, 2013 11:44 AM

                                                I do. With a red hot chili pepper. I mean passion.

                                              2. re: linguafood
                                                sandylc Oct 12, 2013 10:23 PM

                                                I have long vowed to remember someday to put a hammer and chisel in my bag, so that the next time a server asks if I am still "workin'" on that, I can say "yes, I am" and pull out the hammer and chisel.

                                            2. ipsedixit Oct 10, 2013 08:12 PM

                                              I eat salad for dessert. And I always have dessert first.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                treb Oct 11, 2013 08:06 AM

                                                I've had salad for breakfast, pretty good I'd say!

                                                1. re: treb
                                                  tcamp Oct 11, 2013 08:30 AM

                                                  I love leftover Caesar salad for breakfast. Often my kids beat me to it, dang them.

                                                  1. re: tcamp
                                                    treb Oct 11, 2013 11:23 AM

                                                    Poor training, never let your kids know how good Caesar Salad is!

                                              2. Chemicalkinetics Oct 10, 2013 08:19 PM

                                                I usually have it before, but I don't mind having it after.

                                                1. j
                                                  Jerseygirl111 Oct 10, 2013 09:17 PM

                                                  We always have salad before entrees. Fill up on the healthy veg, before moving on to whatever unhealthy entree we have chosen for dinner. Although, sometimes salad is the entree!

                                                  1. Tripeler Oct 10, 2013 11:43 PM

                                                    Most of the time I eat salad with the entrée.

                                                    1. johnb Oct 11, 2013 05:26 AM

                                                      The term salad covers such a wide range that it's difficult to generalize. In terms of its placement in a formal meal of several courses (service a la russe) as popularized in France in the last 200 years or so, the salad was traditionally served after the main course, because its original purpose was as a palate cleanser (this would be a simple salad of greens, some oil, and vinegar). In the US at least, serving salad prior to the main course in a multi-course meal became the rule, and salads became more elaborate. Personally, I do like a simple salad afterwards, for the palate cleansing effect.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: johnb
                                                        treb Oct 11, 2013 08:08 AM

                                                        Ah, some of what I was looking for, historical reference. Not surprised the French take the lead.

                                                        1. re: johnb
                                                          Harters Oct 11, 2013 08:37 AM

                                                          In the French restaurants of my experience (such as the small town one below, where I've eaten on several occasions) salads now form an entree (starter) or are a stand-alone main course plat, rather than a separate course.

                                                          However, this restaurant serves salad leaves with its cheese course which, of course, follows the main course. Lovely mustardy vinaigrette to dress the leaves. It's unusual but, presumably, links back to a historical placement


                                                        2. tcamp Oct 11, 2013 07:47 AM

                                                          I eat it whenever it is served. At home, salad goes on the table along with entrée and is eaten at the same time.

                                                          1. t
                                                            treb Oct 11, 2013 08:13 AM

                                                            When I'm eating a solo full course salad, ie cobb, chefs loaded with cheese, eggs and meats or having the Italian version an Anitpasto with some excellent quality tuna in EVOO, that's all I want with maybe a great glass of wine.

                                                            1. l
                                                              LeoLioness Oct 11, 2013 10:58 AM

                                                              Usually before or with, or as an entree. Never after.

                                                              1. i
                                                                INDIANRIVERFL Oct 11, 2013 02:21 PM

                                                                I eat it when it is put in front of me. I am flexible enough to go with the norms of different cultures.

                                                                1. s
                                                                  sandylc Oct 12, 2013 10:30 PM

                                                                  Before, during, after, or alone.

                                                                  1. Peg Oct 13, 2013 01:37 AM

                                                                    I don't understand the question.
                                                                    Why would you be presented with a random salad?

                                                                    It is eaten when it is presented. If the salad is the main course, then it's the main course.... if a starter then it's the first course. Occasionally salad arrives as part of the cheese course.

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Peg
                                                                      Harters Oct 13, 2013 02:38 AM


                                                                      It's very much an American thing. In restaurants there, you'll be presented with an additional free course of salad leaves. Usually served after the starter.

                                                                      Many Americans seem to think that it is common practice in European countries. But, as you'll know, it isn't.

                                                                      1. re: Harters
                                                                        Gloriaa Oct 13, 2013 06:04 AM

                                                                        I am From France and I live in North America. In a French home salad is always served after the meal, as in every night. I do it in my home and have never been to someone's home in France and not been served a salad after the main before cheese. It is usually a very simple salad. I agree it is not always done in restaurants.

                                                                        1. re: Gloriaa
                                                                          cstr Oct 13, 2013 07:09 AM

                                                                          Is it only in France or other European countries? As I recall, not in Italy.

                                                                          1. re: cstr
                                                                            Gloriaa Oct 13, 2013 07:15 AM

                                                                            I really just want to speak from personal experiences so will stick to France but by no means am I asserting that France is the only country that eats salad after the meal.

                                                                            1. re: cstr
                                                                              Harters Oct 13, 2013 07:29 AM

                                                                              As Gloriaa points out, there may well be differences between what might be served at home and what might be served in a restaurant.

                                                                              As my earlier posts, I've never been served a separate "intermediate" salad course in a restaurant in any of the European countries I regularly visit (Cyprus, France, Belgium, Ireland,Netherlands, Italy, Spain & Malta). My only real experience of home dining in one of those countries is in Spain where, again, I've never been served a salad course. By the by, IIRC, Spain eats more salad per capita than any other European country - they eat it either as a starter or as an accompaniment to the main course, instead of vegetables - pretty much as Peg notes how we eat salad in the UK.

                                                                              1. re: Harters
                                                                                melpy Oct 15, 2013 09:49 AM

                                                                                When I lived in Spain my host mother started with salad every day for lunch. The boarders ate salad and bread and then the main and then fruit for dessert.

                                                                                Salad was lettuce, shoestring carats from a jar, tomato, corn, tuna, cucumber, oil and vinegar. In restaurants I would often see white asparagus added.

                                                                                1. re: melpy
                                                                                  Harters Oct 15, 2013 10:30 AM

                                                                                  Melpy - you pretty much describe the standard Spanish restaurant salad starter dish (the white asparagus also being from a jar).

                                                                                  Family meals that I've enjoyed in Spain have always had a much simpler salad accompaniment to the main course - just lettuce, tomato & onion.

                                                                                  1. re: Harters
                                                                                    melpy Oct 16, 2013 04:07 PM

                                                                                    This was the family salad we ate at home. When I lived there I rarely went to a restaurant. YMMV

                                                                                  2. re: melpy
                                                                                    treb Oct 16, 2013 04:50 PM

                                                                                    I like the simplicity of a basic salad. I bet the EVOO made it.

                                                                                2. re: cstr
                                                                                  linguafood Oct 13, 2013 09:48 AM

                                                                                  Not in Germany. Salads are considered appetizers or sides for mains.

                                                                          2. John E. Oct 14, 2013 08:04 PM

                                                                            Sometimes salad is saved for after the main course, because sometimes the main course is filling enough and we choose to not eat the salad. On those occasions we wrap the salads in plastic for another meal.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: John E.
                                                                              treb Oct 15, 2013 09:01 AM

                                                                              Sometimes I enjoy a salad the day after, it marinates quite well in the frig.

                                                                            2. tiffeecanoe Oct 15, 2013 09:53 AM

                                                                              Before or with.

                                                                              1. tim irvine Oct 16, 2013 05:15 PM

                                                                                After with a couple of exceptions. I like a wedge salad before or with a steak, and I like a salad of avocado, tomato, sweet onion, and white wine vinaigrette as a first course. No idea why. I just like the lightness of salad after the main, have for 60+ years.

                                                                                1. Fowler Nov 3, 2013 10:28 AM

                                                                                  Salad is not a before or after entree/black or white option in my home. A grilled steak, arugula and parmesan salad may be served as an entree or before the entree. Waldorf salad is often served after the appetizer but before the entree. Pasta salad is most often a side dish. Chicken salad is usually a lunch entree. A seasonal fruit salad may be served for dessert.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Fowler
                                                                                    treb Nov 3, 2013 11:01 AM

                                                                                    Looks like you have all the bases covered.

                                                                                  2. Kajikit Nov 4, 2013 09:01 AM

                                                                                    I'm Australian. I like to have my vegetables WITH the rest of my meal, not seperately. I don't really like it when you eat a plate of cold salad and then they give you a plate of meat and starch afterwards.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Kajikit
                                                                                      treb Nov 4, 2013 11:24 AM

                                                                                      I've only been once, is that the tradition?

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