People have been posting pictures of creative Easter salads on Facebook. One involves a half pear bunny with cottage cheese for a fluffy tale. Another rabbit has deviled eggs for ears. In our family we had a legendary salad made with instructions from My First Cookbook, a battered little paperback that my sister-in-law mailed to me recently, another relic from my Mom’s estate. My sister and I made this salad one time, and one time only. From my careful cursive signature on the inside cover of My First Cookbook, I surmise I must have been about eight years old, which would have made Emily five. We were big enough to finally help Mom make dinner, and were in total agreement as to what we wanted to surprise Daddy with – Candlestick Salad.
We followed the directions carefully, placing a leaf of iceberg lettuce on each small salad plate. On this we centered a pineapple ring. Salads for four required two bananas. We cut them in half and placed the flat end in the ring of pineapple. That made the banana stand up straight and tall like a candle, only a slightly bent over candle, like on a really hot day. To make the candle look like it was melting, we did like the book said, and put a dollop of mayonnaise on the end and let it sort of dribble down one side. The crowning touch was a maraschino cherry for the flame. Emily and I were triumphant as we carefully placed a salad plate at each place setting.
When Dad came in, he took one look at the table, looked at my mother, who looked back at him with that raised eyebrow she sometimes got. “The girls worked hard on these. It’s called Candlestick Salad. They found it in the little cookbook your mother gave them.” Daddy made a funny sort of noise in his throat that came out in a snort. Mom just looked at him and said, “Sam.” It sounded like a warning, but we couldn’t imagine why. But we all sat down and had great fun knocking over the candlesticks and eating them. Emily and I were so proud. We never understood until much, much later why Mom wouldn’t let us make it for company.