"Wop salad” is an “Italian Salad” that became popular with Sicilian immigrants to New Orleans (also famous for the muffuletta sandwich) by at least 1930. The salad can contain ingredients such as anchovies, celery, bell peppers, olives, onions, garlic, capers, olive oil, and vinegar. The salad was very popular throughout Texas from about 1930-1970, especially in cities such as Corpus Christi, Austin and San Antonio.
“Wop” is believed to be derived from the Neapolitan word guappo (handsome or stylish man) and is usually regarded as an ethnic slur. Unfortunately, “wop salad” is rarely served today because of its politically incorrect name, although it is sometimes served with the name “Italian salad.”
New Orleans-style Italian Salad
(or, as it was once called locally, “Wop Salad")
For the salad:
8 cups crisp lettuce of assorted types (should include romaine), torn into bite-sized pieces
2 medium ripe tomatoes (Creole tomatoes, if you got ‘em), cut into wedges
1-1/2 to 2 cups olive salad
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
16 flat anchovies
8 large boiled shrimp, peeled
8 large white or green asparagus spears, steamed and chilled
Freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
For the dressing:
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mixed Italian seasoning herbs, or to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Combine lettuces, olive salad, tomatoes and dressing in a large bowl, toss well. Divide evenly on 8 salad plates. On each plate, make an “x” with two anchovies on top of each mixed salad. Top with one asparagus spear and a boiled shrimp. Make sure each plate has some tomatoes and plenty of the vegetables (including a pepperoncini) from the olive salad. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.
YIELD: 8 servings
Untwist your shorts, that’s what it’s called. At the restaurant. By the Sicilian-Americans who make it!
A Taste of New Orleans
Later, Italian immigrants added yet another dimension to the city’s tables. In addition, many traditional Old South dishes remain on menus. Keep your eyes peeled for the now rare “Wop Salad” (containing olives, shrimp, asparagus, and topped with anchovies), a contribution of the aforementioned Italian population, and a victim of political correctness, even though said Italians didn’t mind the name (in this context) a bit.
WOP SALAD MIX
1 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper
1 doz. chopped ripe olives
1/2 c. chopped onions
10 cloves garlic, pressed
1 dill pickle, minced
1/2 tsp. capers
1 1/2 c. olive oil
Mix all ingredients, except the oil. Add oil, and mix well. Let set in refrigerator for 4 days before using, covered. May be used on green salad. Makes about one quart.
24 October 1930, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 8B, col. 3:
Select firm tomatoes and stuff with mixture of Portola mustard sardines, diced celery, green pepper, tart apples and Gem salad dressing.
14 November 1930, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 7C, col. 4 ad:
Surprise Your Guests Tonight!
Serve a WOP SALAD Made With
MUSTARD—TOMATO SAUCE—FRENCH—SMOKED FILETS
16 September 1934, San Antonio (TX) Express, pg. D11, col. 1 ad:
A Taste Delight That Whispers of Europe
THE PLAZA HOTEL
19 July 1935, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, pg. 13, col. 2:
Wop salad, consisting of griced (sic) lettuce, anchovies, avocoda (sic), celery, ripe olives, melano pepper, tomato and Caruso dressing!
20 March 1938, San Antonio (TX) Express, pg. A7, col. 4:
Delicious Italian Wop Salad with Pickled Peppers..12c
30 July 1939, San Antonio (TX) Express, pg. A1, col. 7 ad:
Our famous Wop Salad in a Wooden Bowl, with French Dressing...12c
A Glossary of Cafe Terms
Oran B. Bailey
American Speech, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Dec., 1943), pp. 307-308
WOP SALAD. A miscellaneous salad made in various ways but usually containing raisins, oranges, and salad dressing.
24 August 1945, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 1, pg. 6 ad:
PUNY’S WOP SALAD, 8-Oz. Jar… 29c
20 June 1948, Denton (TX) Record-Chronicle, “Italian Wop Salad Is King Specialty” by Peg Lockhart, pg. 24, cols. 1-2:
His recipe for Italian Wop Salad is:
1-3 medium head of lettuce
3-4 cup of chopped celery
4 or 6 tomatoes (cut in wedges)
3 hard-boiled eggs
2 mild-sweet Italian pickled peppers (finely chopped)
1 cup fillet of anchovy or chopped shrimp
The juice from 1-2 garlic pod
Rub wooden salad bowl with 1-3 piece of garlic—chop fine the lettuce and celery. Cut in the tomatoes and radishes, salt and pepper. Pour over this a small amount of the oil from the can of anchovy, a dash of garlic salt and stir all ingredients. Arrange in salad bowl with the eggs sliced on top. Then strip the salad with fillet of anchovy and a few of the Italian peppers. Serve with your favorite salad dressing. Serves six.
A picture of life in the United States, as brought into focus, bigger than life, in the land of the millionaires—Texas
by John Bainbridge
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
Another specialty is Wop Salad, the localism for a mixed green salad.
Old Powder Man
by Joan Williams
New York, NY: Harcourt Brace & World
Wop salad, he called it. Kate said, “I never thought I’d see the day you ate garlic, green peppers and ripe olives.”
11 May 1967, Lake Park (Iowa) News, pg. 3, cols. 1-2:
Serves four for lunch or eight as a side dish.
First prepare a dressing using 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup salad oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, shake well and set aside.
Now, cut one garlic pad in half and using cut side of both pieces, rub this garlic thoroughly over inside of the large salad bowl. Into this bowl put:
1 head of lettuce shredded
4 tomatoes diced
1 large dill pickle diced
4 to 6 green onions chopped
1 cucumber diced
10-12 small radishes diced
1 small bell pepper chopped
2 sticks celery chopped
Pour dressing over vegetables and toss thoroughly but gently. Put into individual bowls and top with hard boiled eggs of sliced salted herring. Serve with crackers and a beverage.
Italian Immigrants in Louisiana’s Sugar Parishes
by Vincenze Scarpaci and Jean A. Scarpaci
1980 [Originally presented as the author’s thesis, Rutgers, 1972.]
In 1965, restaurant menus featuring Italian foods listed “Wop” salad. Some of these restaurants were owned by Italian Americans who seemed indifferent to the use of this derogatory term. Conversations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1965.
The Dictionary of American Food and Drink
by John F. Mariani
New Haven, CT: Ticknor & Fields
Wop salad. A salad of lettuce made with olives, oregano, capers, anchovies, garlic and oil. It is a Louisiana specialty whose name derives from the ethnic slur term wop, from a Neapolitan word, guappo, “handsome man,” used since the 1890s.
The National Trust Guide to New Orleans
by Roulhac Toledano
New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons
Mandina’s at 3800 Canal Street (482-9179) offers a similar experience. Only in New Orleans will you find Italian restaurants with “Wop Salad” written on the menu.
International Dictionary of Food & Cooking
by Charles Gordon Sinclair
Chicago, IL: Fitzroy Dearborn
wop salad (USA) Lettuce with olives, anchovies, oregano, capers, and garlic dressed with olive oil. A politically incorrect name and probably soon obsolete.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, February 29, 2008 • Permalink