Years ago I read a rather sweet story, possibly in one of my old cooking magazines, written by an elderly man about his one experience at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
He was an army private during WWII, on leave at home in New York one Christmas. He wanted to propose in a spectacularly romantic fashion to his girl (this was before flash mobs and YouTube) but was on a limited budget. So he wrote to the maitre d’ at the Waldorf Astoria. He explained that he would like to take his girl there for dinner on New Year’s Eve and propose to her at midnight, and told the maitre d’ his budget. I don’t remember now what the budget was, but it was low. Very low for the Waldorf-Astoria, but he didn’t know that.
Eventually he got a note back from the Waldorf-Astoria saying there was a table reserved for two on New Year’s Eve. He and his girl dressed in their finest and arrived at the hotel and were escorted to their table. They were presented with a hand-watercolored paper menu outlining what they would be served: consomme, breast of chicken, baked potato, vegetables.
The two lovebirds enjoyed their dinner. Afterwords, at a word from the maitre d’, the house band struck up their song, and they stepped onto the dance floor – where the young man proposed.
I don’t remember now what the bill was, or if it was comped by the Waldorf-Astoria, or how that was worked out. She said yes and that was the important part. It was only years later that the young man realized that his budget could not ever have covered the cost of the dinner, and that he had been given a great gift courtesy of the Waldorf-Astoria.
So I told you all that to get around to this.
I’m always a little surprised when people tell me they have never heard of Waldorf Salad. My mother always made it at Christmas and Thanksgiving. We never had it any other time, and I don’t know why not because it’s easy to make and goes with a lot of other foods. And I never think to make it except for a holiday dinner. It is credited to Oscar of the Waldorf but actually was made elsewhere before he got credit. No matter.
- fresh crisp apples, preferably with pretty peel color
- fresh crisp celery, preferably not stringy
This isn’t even a recipe: Chop apples, celery, and walnuts. Mix together with mayonnaise. Refrigerate until serving time. Proportions are up to you.
This can be varied in 58948594 ways. Grapes are a good addition, and so is avocado. Try sour cream instead of mayonnaise. Olives, chopped chicken, capers, oranges, cucumber, a spoonful of horseradish, yogurt, whipped cream….
This keeps well several days in the refrigerator.