A California classic - the Green Goddess dressing - makes for a mouth-watering accompaniment with a crisp lettuce salad and crudités. Not many know, however, that this soulful herb-infused condiment, so dear to the American palate, has a unique Indian connection. The dressing, visible on shelves in grocery stores from the Big Apple to the Golden State, got its name from a popular stage play starring actor George Arliss set in India in 1920.
Arliss was a guest at the historic Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco while shooting for the hit play The Green Goddess by Scottish writer and theatre critic, William Archer.
The dressing was created for a banquet held at the Palace in George Arliss' honour. At the time he was lead actor in the play, 'The Green Goddess'. The inspiration came from the name of the play. This is why it is a vibrant green colour. Palace Hotel marketing and public relations representative Renee Roberts told PTI here.
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While Arliss was staying at the Palace Hotel for a performance, Head Chef Philip Roemer created the special dressing to be served on the starter salad and the rest is history.
The dressing is green - literally - combining parsley, tarragon, spinach and chervil with a host of other ingredients such as Worcestershire sauce, capers and egg yolk.
After the play finished, two film versions of "The Green Goddess" were made. Arliss a white British actor starred as an Indian maharaja in them. The Green Goddess was a made-up deity in a Hollywood version of a Hindu temple.
In the three years after its publication, the play toured in both the US and the UK. It was included in Burns Mantle's The Best Plays of 1920-1921.
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The cast in the play included Arliss as Raja of Rukh, and Ronald Colman as a temple priest.
The play was the basis for both a 1923 silent film and a 1930 talkie. Arliss and Scottish film and stage actor Ivan F Simpson reprised their roles in both films, as the Raja of Rukh and his chief aide, respectively.
Arliss was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance.
The film featured a small plane carrying three British citizens that crash lands in the tiny realm of Rukh, somewhere near the Himalaya Mountains. The Raja who rules the land welcomes them.
However, as his three brothers are soon to be executed for murder by the British, his subjects believe their Green Goddess has delivered into their hands three victims for their revenge.
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We can't ignore how there's something really enchanting about the phrase The Green Goddess says Laura Borrman, author of the book "Iconic San Francisco Dishes, Drinks & Desserts".
The book discovers the disputed origins of local specialties like the chicken tetrazzini, chop suey and the classic martini, along with the legend behind the creation of Green Goddess Dressing.
According to Roberts, who's worked with the Palace Hotel for more than 20 years, the original recipe was heavy on the mayonnaise, and was served on canned artichokes, considered a luxury in those days.
On Thursday, the Palace has lightened the dressing with olive oil. And there are no canned vegetables in sight.