Pseudo-philosophical, what is a "salad?"

Forgive me if we've already been over this, and I know it doesn't matter, but what exactly do you think is the definition of a salad? Perhaps it's the word-nerd part of me, but the sliding definition of salad has always bothered me, maybe we need a salad continuum or a food taxonomy.

Is it just a collection of random ingredients that aren't a soup or a casserole/hot dish? There's jello salads in all their carrot shred and raisin glory, what up with those? Does anyone (outside of a church cookbook) still use the mayo-like salad dressing stuff? A lot of pasta salad turns into casserole once it's baked. But it's not whether the ingredients are cooked or not that defines a salad, because there are plenty of perfectly respectable salads with cooked ingredients. And what's up with bread salad? Is stuffing technically a salad? I mean really, what's the definition of the word salad? Do you just know it when you see it?


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