Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Irene Rich’s Salad a la Philippine

We’re back! I’m attempting to cook every recipe in the 1929 Photoplay Cookbook and you’re invited to come along for the ride. Today, we’re going to be trying a somewhat frightening fruit salad from a popular leading lady.

You can catch up on all my taste tests here.

Irene Rich starred in westerns and she starred in society dramas and she starred opposite Will Rogers but if you really want to see her at her best, run out and find yourself a copy of Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925), in which she thoroughly steals the show.

Rich’s salad, on the other hand, doesn’t seem poised to win anyone over. First of all, pears and peppers and grapefruit are not famous as a great food combination, at least in my neck of the woods. Second, nobody from the Philippines that I asked had ever heard of the thing. (But please chime in if you’ve ever seen it there!)

Actually, the salad bears a striking resemblance to the Astoria Salad published in Cooking for Two: A Handbook for Young Housekeepers by Janet Mckenzie Hill, which was published in 1912. I have included it here because the instructions are much clearer than those in Photoplay.

Neither version really tells you what to do with the pepper, does it? Oh well.

Irene Rich may have run into the recipe in Hawaii but it’s actually more likely that she never delivered a recipe at all and her studio representatives chose it for her. (We pretend that the stars made these recipes because it’s fun to play make-believe. Most of them assuredly did not.)

Well, there’s nothing else for it, let’s get cracking.

First, a confession: my grocery store was all out of endive when I bought ingredients for this salad so I decided to omit it. Greens under a fruit salad are rarely eaten anyway and the endive seems to have been chosen less for its flavor and more for its ability to look like a fan. (That’s also likely why this recipe was chosen for Miss Rich, to play on her screen triumph.) I used a green plate instead.

So, here is the lengthwise sliced pear:

And I arranged the grapefruit and oranges.

Note: According to the FDA, grapefruit is known to interact with many common medications. Please check with your doctor before consuming. Orange sections can be used as a substitute for grapefruit.

And the simple dressing:

And finally, the red pepper strip and the paprika:

I put even less effort into this salad arrangement than usual because, frankly, I was expecting a bomb.

So, I tasted it and…

Score: 4 out of 5. It didn’t look promising but darn if this wasn’t a tasty combination. The ingredients have deep, dusky notes that meld together surprisingly well and the salad is an excellent balance of sweet and savory.

A more modern, casual toss of the ingredients and this could be the latest hipster first course! Maybe I’ll even add in shreds of endive. Just be sure to use good paprika.

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11 Replies to “Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Irene Rich’s Salad a la Philippine”

  1. I do a similar salad which is sliced tomato, avocado slices, grapefruit (or orange) supremes and shaved red onion with a dressing made of the fruit juice squeezed from the sliced off peels and remaining fruit insides, olive oil, salt and peper.

  2. Interesting blend of fruits and flavors- sure, I’d try it. I actually have some curly endive hanging around in the veg bin right now, but do you think smoked paprika would do? It’s all I’m seeing on the spice shelves.

    Also, may I say that I always love your choices in crockery for plating these recipes 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! I get everything at Home Goods and World Market. Hmm, that’s a really good question about the smoked paprika. I’m just afraid it might overwhelm other flavors so maybe with a very light hand? If you do it, let me know how it turns out!

  3. Interesting, I‘ll try this one out. And I totally agree, she steals the show in Landy Windermere‘s Fan. And that movie is an absolute phenomenon, turning a very chatty play into a great silent film is no small feat.

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