Green goddess of tarragon, anchovies, and spring


A goddess in green, from the 1940s.

March 20: Romaine Lettuce with Green Goddess Dressing

To celebrate the first day of spring, I decided to try my hand at the retro salad dressing with the evocative name.


Green Goddess. A salad or salad dressing made from anchovies, mayonnaise, tarragon vinegar, and other seasonings, the salad was created at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel in the mid-1920s at the request of actor George Arliss, who was appearing in town in William Archer’s play The Green Goddess.


Anchovies, a key ingredient.

Oily little ocean fish are odd thing in a salad dressing… but not uncommon, of course – they are in Caesar salad too. I guess the distinct briny fishy flavor adds some complexity to the goddess’s mayo, sour cream and chopped herbs.

The slightly anise-flavored herb tarragon (Artemisia dranunculus) is also what is distinctive about this dressing.


Dressing ingredients arrayed before chopping and Cuisinarting.

I used this recipe from Saveur: Green Goddess Dressing.

I didn’t have tarragon vinegar so I used white wine vinegar and fresh tarragon (as I had seen in some other recipes for this dressing). I also added some scallions, for a bit of spring onion flavor.


A pale, creamy green, this was a pretty dressing to look forward to.

Dear daughter Laura, 19, was home from Boston for spring break. She has developed a taste for salads and healthier, less “processed” eating, especially working part time as a waitress in a couple of different restaurants since September. Lots of plates of food have passed under her eyes and nose, and she has had the chance to sample many things before or after work, or on break.

“I want food that’s closer to alive,” she says.

And speaking of briny, one of the classes she is taking now is The Deep: Purity, Danger, and Metamorphosis

This comparative course examines metaphysical, mythical, and ritual responses to the sea, including its multiple and conflicting roles as arena of pilgrimage, catharsis, primordial generation, rebirth, desolation, or apocalypse.


Green Goddess is a fairly bold dressing, so I served it on hearty romaine lettuce with some slices of red onion.

John made fried chicken and oven-roasted new potatoes. We talked about warm places, flying airplanes, jobs, and life.

The vernal equinox was at 7:02 a.m. and astronomical spring began… with 8 fresh inches of snow on the ground. But with my xray spring hope vision I could look right through the snow and beneath the frozen mud to where seeds are quivering with the urge to sprout… imminent green life.

and your hands are the snow and thy
fingers are the rain
and your
feet O your feet

feet feet incorrigible

ragging the world

– e.e. cummings, spring omnipotent goddess Thou