Okay, smartypants. So you know Arizona’s state bird is the cactus wren. And that our state flower is the saguaro blossom. You may even be aware that our state butterfly is the two-tailed swallowtail.
But how about the state salad? Huh? We have one. Know what it is?
No, you don’t. And that’s because having a state salad is a profoundly silly and embarrassing thing, something no doubt cooked up by a PR flack fresh out of intelligent ideas.
Don’t get me wrong: I happen to love the dish in question. Formerly known simply as a chopped salad and popularized by Chef Bernie Kantak of Citizen Public House and The Gladly, I’ve eaten this salad often, ordering it at Kantak’s restaurants and making it myself, from the widely published recipe. But, really. A state salad?
The only thing worse than a state salad is a state salad with its own acronym, which ours also has, as of recently. The former chopped salad, which some claim Kantak “invented” some 20 years ago while a chef at Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale, is now officially known as The OMFG Salad.
I’m not sure who’s in charge of naming salads; is there a State Board of Leafy Green Vegetables? In any case, this popular combination of sliced-and-diced baby arugula, smoked salmon, and corn arranged in colorful rows has a vulgar acronym but a pretty benign new name: In this case, OMFG stands not for the implied Oh My Fucking God of Twitter lingo, but rather for Original Mixed Feel-Good, which somehow makes the whole idea of a state salad that much more embarrassing.
But wait — there’s more. Our state salad, which Kantak and business partner Andrew Fritz say sold 75,000 orders last year alone, is about to get its own chain of restaurants. And Kantak and company want us to tell them precisely where those restaurants should be located. Visitors to omfgsalad.com (because every state salad must have its own website) are encouraged to send a note suggesting OMFG locations.
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I’m tempted to respond with “Anywhere but near where I live,” because I’d like to focus on forgetting that we have a state salad, and driving past a storefront emblazoned with “OMFG” would be a constant reminder that a salad I can make at home now has a pretend pedigree.
Entries are being accepted until mid-April, after which chopped salad bars will presumably begin popping up all over Maricopa County and beyond. Meanwhile, I own a sharp knife and my grandmother’s recipe for chopped salad, neither of which has either an acronym or claims to be the mascot of any place at all.
For more information or to enter the contest, visit the salad's very own website, omfgsalad.com.