I ordered a Greek salad last night with grilled chicken from Carmine’s in West Chester. The thought of warm chicken against the Feta cheese (so that it melts ever so lightly) with tomatoes, olives and yummy greens sounded perfect. I mentioned this to my waitress, Rebecca, who said that her mom made the best Italian dish with shrimp and Feta cheese that melted in the same way. I immediately asked for her mother’s phone number.
When my salad arrived I made a few perfect bites by shuffling through the greens and combining the best ingredients. I pushed the red onion (I was on a date)and croutons to the side and then I caught a crouton staring at me. He seemed saddened. I looked around and noticed that all the other croutons were feeling the same way. And that’s when I realized… the life of a crouton is not a glamorous one.
Their life starts out full of promise and hope. They have the potential to be to soft yet crusty slice of bread delivering a variety of tasty fillings into the mouths of hungry sandwich lovers around the world.
They could aspire to be the first bite for restaurant goers and have butter melted on them as patrons anticipate the main course. They could then be dipped, later in the meal, in a creamy vodka sauce, a flavorful reduction or (as I like to do) in a delicious bowl of soup or stew.
There is even hope that they could be the first loaf of bread delivered fresh from the farmer’s market into the arms of early Saturday morning shoppers still warm from the oven.
But the reality of a crouton is a sad one. They aren’t used. There was no delightful experience that a loaf of bread gets to participate in. They simply got stale. And at that point their only option is the trash can or the salad bar.
As if this thought wasn’t embarrassing enough they are diced up into chunks. Then they are coated in oil so they get a more desirable color. After that they are baked or fried to get a better texture. And for a better taste? They are covered with seasonings and cheeses to help cover up their staleness. And all of this is in hopes that someone would actually eat them.
And in my case I toss them to the side in an effort to fill up on healthier, tastier salad toppings. No wonder they looked sad.
The Final Dish: Poor little croutons. I feel bad for you…but that doesn”t mean I’m gonna eat you. It’s me, not you. Really.
Fun Fact: The word crouton is derived from the French word “croÃ»te” meaning “crust”.