Last summer, I read The Constant Princess for book club, a novel about the
long-suffering, but proud Katharine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife, who was pushed off her thrown by Anne Boleyn. I had already read The Other Boleyn Girl, which tells the story of Anne’s plotting and usurping of the throne, and became intrigued by Philipa Gregory’s accounts of the Tudors. Although I sympathized with Anne Boleyn as I read the latter, I really appreciated The Constant Princess because it gave me a different view of the Queen’s past, and her influence on Henry and all of England. Gregory’s Queen Katharine is a noble, educated and stubborn monarch, who is at the same time, loving to her philandering mate until the end.
As Melanie pointed out in her “How to make Cabbage Salad” post, Katharine of Aragon is responsible for bringing salad to England. She tells her first husband (Henry’s brother, Arthur), and according to Gregory, her “one true love” that she talked with the gardener about growing salad vegetables, but that the gardener just didn’t understand what she meant, no matter what language she used. Upon hearing this, her husband asks, “I don’t understand either. What is salad?”
She explains that it is a vegetable that grows in the ground that is eaten without being cooked.
Upon hearing this, her husband asks, “You eat them raw? Without boiling?”
He explains that eating uncooked food can make someone “dreadfully ill” (pp 138).
Katharine sighs, exasperated, and does her best to explain the basics of salad. Though reluctant, fortunately, for us, Arthur loved his wife and trusted her instincts because now we can enjoy delicious fresh salads made with all kinds of vegetables.
So, here is a second salute to Katharine of Aragon. Thank you!
10 oz fresh, washed spinach
3 oz of shredded mozzarella
4-5 strips of turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 large tomato, sliced
Dressing: 2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Splash of red wine vinegar
Dash of salt
Place the freshly washed spinach in a large salad bowl or plate. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, and turkey-bacon pieces. Arrange the tomato slices on top and add a dash of salt. Drizzle 2-3 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil on top. Splash with red wine vinegar.