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

Johnson, Ellen ejohnson at BERRY.EDU
Mon Jan 14 16:57:57 UTC 2002

was reading in the newest Nat'l Geographic last night about the New Europe and the metaphors people were using were

a bouquet of flowers (the tulips are still tulips) and
an orchestra (the violins are still violins)

seemed much more appealing to me than the salad bowl metaphor for some reason.  Ellen

Ellen Johnson
Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Dept. of English, Rhetoric, and Writing
Berry College, Box 350
Mt. Berry, GA 30149
ejohnson at

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark A Mandel [mailto:mam at THEWORLD.COM]
Sent: Monday, January 14, 2002 11:04 AM
Subject: Re: Salad bowl (was Re: The Finger (1947?))

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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