Julia Sherman might be the world’s first dedicated salad blogger. Her website, Salad for President, is a polished food blog, replete with pretty pictures and effortlessly chic subjects, but it’s also a hub for storytelling. For Julia, salad is both a passion and a medium in which to break down social barriers. To date, Salad for President (which launched in 2012 and began posting more frequently in 2013) has collected hundreds of salad recipes from friends and strangers, each one laid out on the blog with photos, a recipe, and a short feature about her guest salad-maker.
“Pretty much everybody has a salad that they make that they’re really proud of,” she says as we stroll down Arizona Avenue during Wednesday’s Santa Monica Farmers Market. “Salad can be as simple or as complicated as you want, so I’m always shocked when someone doesn’t have a salad.”
Julia’s visiting from Brooklyn and has scheduled salad dates almost every day she’s here. Her next guests, Davida Nemeroff and Mieke Marple of Night Gallery, don’t have a salad recipe, which is why Julia’s market tote is full of persimmons, pea tendrils, yuzu, and finger limes. Eventually, those ingredients will debut on Salad for President alongside photos of Davida, Mieke, and the Night Gallery space. It won’t be the first time that Julia has pinch-hit for her guests, but it’s rare. “Most people bring their A-game,” she says.
Julia is an artist. Before she received her MFA at Columbia, she attended the Mountain School of Arts in Los Angeles, which explains why so many of the salads on her blog come from L.A.’s creative class. Her guests range from Pizzanista’s Price Latimer Agah to design all-stars Lizz Wasserman and Isaac Resnikoff of The Project Room. A recent post with Claire Evans of the band Yacht highlighted the vegan musician’s affinity for nasturtium leaves and nutritional yeast. One of Julia’s favorite posts features local actress turned fashion designer Claire Stansfield, whose career has taken her from the set of Xena: Warrior Princess to designing the interiors of Suzanne Goin’s restaurants (including the stunning remake of AOC).
Salad for President’s major break came last summer when Julia installed a salad garden on the roof of MoMA PS1, a contemporary art museum in Queens. The rooftop garden spawned salad pot lucks and a series of salads made by artists whose work was in the exhibition. She hopes to bring the salad garden to a Los Angeles institution next summer. “The reason I’m interested in growing food in a museum context is that it’s a place that people are coming already with an open mind and expecting to ask questions,” she says. “People feel really insecure when they go to a museum and it was just really refreshing to see people emerge on the roof at PS1 and be so relieved to see salad.”
We pause at Coleman Family Farms’ stand, a lettuce lover’s paradise, and Julia spots a pale, moderately spikey bunch of lettuce leaves. Was it cardoons? Celtuce? “Sword lettuce,” interjects Delia Coleman, officially stumping the salad blogger. “It’s a Taiwanese lettuce. You can eat it raw or saute it with chile and sesame oil.”
Julia’s local farmers’ market is in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where tables of beets and rutabaga are the norm this time of year. When she visits L.A., which is fairly often, she’s drawn to ingredients she can’t find at home. “I am entirely driven by what looks crazy or cool, or things that are a weird shape or a weird color,” she says. Just moments later, we happen upon the acorn-shaped Tamopan persimmons at Windrose Farm and Julia can’t resist taking one home. “I feel similarly walking through the farmers’ market as I do when going through a really good exhibit….like holy s**t, how did I not know about this?”