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If someone were to hear “confectionery” or the “confectioner,” many foodies would draw upon images of sweet and delectable treats. The chocolate almond, strawberry creams, or even frozen delights, such as coffee ice cream. But salads?
That is correct: the salad was one area of expertise under the prevue of the confectioner. According to Dictionary.com, the word confectioner (a noun) describes “a person who makes or sells candies, and sometimes, ice creams, cakes, etc.” The origin of the word dates back to the 16th century. When looking at the root word, confection, several definitions are listed, but when it comes to food it is defined as “a sweet preparation of fruit or the like, as a preserve or candy.” Another related definition hints at confection’s medicinal past: “a medicated preparation made with the aid of sugar, honey, syrup or the like.”
So it seems that the modern definition doesn’t lend its hand to explaining how the salad ended up being under the confectioner’s direction. How did this come to be? According to food historian Ivan Day, substantial households reserved a special room or set of rooms for the confectioner to practice their art. “…Salads, confections and other desert foods were prepared in a separate suite of rooms called the office.”
It makes sense to remove the delicate ingredients of a salad away from the heat of the kitchen. This is especially true when dealing with lettuces and herbs. But according to Day, there was a wide “range of salad recipes suitable for the different seasons of the year.” Some of the more unusual salads included Salad of Sugared Capers, Lemon Salad, and Pomegranate Salad.
As with all food work of the 18th century, especially when cooking in gentry households, the food work must be decorative. And here is where the confectioner truly shines with his or her skills in artistry and beauty. Balance and symmetry must complement the salads, just as this dish must complement to look and balance of the table as a whole.
So perhaps the next time you create a salad for your family, take time out to find inspiration from our 18th-century confectioners. Perhaps try recreating some of the period salad receipts? See what culinary masterpieces you can create for your table to be enjoyed by family and friends.
 Day, Ivan. Cooking in Europe, 1650-1850. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2009. Pg. 2.
 Ibid. Pg. 7.