Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Charlie Chaplin Nut Salad

Welcome back! I’m cooking my way through vintage recipes ostensibly written by or inspired by silent movie stars. Today, we’re going to be testing out a recipe inspired by one of the biggest names in film history: Charlie Chaplin.

(Catch up on all my past taste tests here.)

Chaplin was already a pretty big deal in 1916 when Lillian Blackstone created a series of salads inspired by popular leading men. (I’ve already tested her Wallace Reid Salad, as well as her Lillian Gish, Theda Bara and Beverly Bayne sandwiches.) She dubbed Chaplin the King of Comedy and decided that nothing said “Chaplin” like a cantaloupe.

I didn’t have a Rocky Ford cantaloupe but I don’t think it makes that much of a difference. I did, however, decide to remove the melon flesh from the rind. Yes, serving this in a half-cantaloupe is pretty but highly impractical as it means one person has a gigantic salad and it’s hard to balance out melon to filling. Instead, I scooped the insides and sliced them into bite-size pieces.

Next, celery and some nice Fuji apples. I used three celery stalks and two apples.

Next, the mayonnaise. I am not a big mayo dressing fan and so I added just enough to coat the other ingredients. About two tablespoons total. (Mayonnaise dressing is mayo with a little bit of sugar and lemon juice added. Meh.)

Since this was turning into a Waldorf Salad with melon instead of grapes, I decided to use walnuts. (The recipe does not specify which variety of the star ingredient to use.) I used about a quarter of a cup.

Nerd Note: I am not positive whether the Waldorf Salad actually contained walnuts when the Chaplin recipe was published. Sometime between the 1890s and the 1920s, walnuts entered the picture but we cannot be certain when. Elizabeth Driver did exhaustive research on the mysterious walnut addition in Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949 and she found a 1915 Waldorf Salad recipe that called for the salad dish to be “dusted” with walnuts or almonds. Not quite a smoking gun but it shows that the concept of adding walnuts would not have been considered odd in 1916.

Okay, all set to plate this up! I really am not a fan of those neon cherries you find in the supermarket, so I ordered some less… vibrant fruit. Yum!

Score: 4 out of 5. This is a twist on a pretty popular combination of fruits, nuts and veggies. I liked it quite a bit and the cantaloupe’s pretty color worked well. I think if I made it again, I would use Mexican or Salvadoran crema to hold it together and add in the grapes. Obviously, making this vegan would be a snap– just substitute the vegan mayo or cream of your choice.

This is a very old school American fruit salad and it still holds up. Chaplin fans can hold their heads high!

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6 Replies to “Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Charlie Chaplin Nut Salad”

  1. First I thought, a Chaplin-recipe? I must try this! Then I saw the photo of the celery. It’s one of those complicated vegetables. To me it tastes like old metal. I might still have to try this out, out of fandom-duty or something. Thanks for these cooking-features, they are consistently brilliant, fun to read and sometimes try out 🙂

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