Reviving Salmagundi

Claiborne and All Who Sailed in him (honestly, I can’t count how often I’ve wanted to kick that pontifical old queen under the table) declared, “There is something about the word ‘salmagundi’ that has an unmistakable appeal for savants with a leaning toward gourmandism.”

I have no ambition of being a savant, much less one learning towards gourmandism. Like many others, I simply find salmagundi—like pettifoggery, kittywampus, or hullabaloo—a word I want to pick off the page, cuddle, and tease with a string.

The dish is just as playful, actually, not so much a dish as it is a presentation like an antipasto or a smorgasbord, of a selection of cold vegetables, pickles, meats, and fruit mounded on a tray.

By precedent, you want your meat, cold poached chicken atop salad greens ringed with pickles, cooked eggs, raw or blanched vegetables, citrus, nuts, sausages, and cold fish—anchovies are a classic addition, but I like smoked salmon, too.

Pretty much anything goes with the notable exception of cheese, which isn’t included in any reliable historic recipe.

Sardine Salad

Take Port Clydes in oil, drain, drizzle with lemon juice and salt, and put them in the refrigerator to chill. Serve with gherkins, celery, onions, and boiled/pickled eggs. Dill toast is wonderful, but rye Melba will suffice, and saltines will do any time at all.