Salad bowl (was Re: The Finger (1947?))

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Mon Jan 14 16:04:23 UTC 2002

On Mon, 14 Jan 2002, Paul McFedries wrote:

#The "salad bowl" metaphor is used to describe a multicultural society in
#which each ethnic group maintains its own cultural identity rather than
#being assimilated into a larger, common culture (the "melting pot").

Whoever Paul was replying to (sorry) had said about the

> "Melting pot" is a hot-metal metaphor, not a food
>metaphor.  I am not sure what you mean by a metaphorical
>"salad bowl."

Most people are not familiar with hot-metal (industrial)
imagery. I had always assumed that "melting pot" was
culinary, without examining it closely. I'm not so familiar
with the kitchen that I could say "there's no such thing in
cooking", and I associated it with a stew or soup, or
possibly a fondue (which does melt, as the name implies). I
have a vague sense that the explanations of it that I'd seen
also referred to cooking; maybe "flavors melting together."

I suspect, though I can't prove it, that "salad bowl" was
deliberately coined in response to such a culinary
interpretation of "melting pot". And I'm certain, though I
can't give a citation, that the first time I saw "salad
bowl", or one of the very first times, it was accompanied by
an explicit assertion of that contrast to the "melting pot",
just as you describe and cite:

#The underlying idea is that when you combine salad
#ingredients they retain their "identity": the lettuce is
#still recognizable as lettuce, the carrots as carrots,

        [snip citation]

-- Mark A. Mandel
   Linguist at Large

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