If you don't like cooking, make sure you know how to shop. There are people who can pull together a wonderful dinner without ever lighting the stove. If you have access to lovely cheeses and charcuterie, fresh produce and a delectable bakery, you can simply act the part of curator, responsible only (but crucially) for the selection and arrangement of the perfect elements. A salade composée
, or composed salad, is another variatiom on this theme. This French invention (if, in fact, anyone can really claim ownership)—a fitting combination of prescribed rules and laissez-faire
—is a perfectly calibrated assortment of ingredients aesthetically arranged on a plate and drizzled with dressing, rather than tossed with it. (Though I'm not above tossing mine, if I feel it may be of benefit.) The most famous example is arguably the salade Niçoise
, with its complementary hard-boiled eggs, anchovies, canned tuna, potatoes, olives and green beans. The most successful manage an artful balance of colors, flavors and textures and a pleasing architecture, like the ones currently featured on two of my favorite blogs—flavor in spades
and hungry ghost
—whose fertile creativity and gorgeous refinement continually amaze.