Instructions for Waldorf Salad

Astoria: middle class and commercial neighborhood in the northwestern corner of New York City. Borough: Queens. Astoria is bounded by the East River. Nearest are three other Queens neighborhoods: Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside. Astoria is patrolled by the New York City Police Department’s 114th Precinct. Astoria was first settled by the Dutch and Germans. Then the Irish came in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Now there are other ethnic settlers: Italians, Jews, Cypriots, Arabs. There is a street there called “Little Egypt.” When I go into Arab shops I think of dates, figs, pistachios; I do not think of walnuts. Oscar at the Waldorf did not put them into his original salad recipe. Someone else did, years and years later, in California. Then grapes followed. Own it, goes a slogan heard often on the lips of the young. He was Swiss. As for epicure: the word appears in all the stubs on his biography. The word comes from the late 14th century, meaning “follower of Epicurus,” after the Athenian philosopher who taught that pleasure is the highest good and virtue is the greatest pleasure. The first lesson, therefore, is apples. Apples and honey, celery slices thinned to the shape of commas. The juice and zest of a lemon. Zest licks the fingers on which the sweet dressing has spilled, as the tray is borne from kitchen to dining plaza in that famous hotel.

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