A New York Times report published Friday featured several allegations that Sen. Amy Klobuchar had mistreated her staff, including an eyebrow-raising anecdote that started the piece: Klobuchar, a 2020 presidential candidate, once used a comb from her bag to eat a salad after her aide forgot a fork—and afterward handed the used comb to the staff member and told him to clean it. Blurred lines of professionalism and more serious allegations of a demoralizing and dehumanizing work environment aside: How do you eat a salad with a comb?
Armed with a six-pack of assorted plastic combs purchased from the nearest Target and a salad from the cafe downstairs, Slate tested each hair styling tool in an attempt to discover which apparatus allows for the optimal consumption of salad. If you have never before attempted to use a comb as a fork, the results are eye-opening.
The combs, which range in size and purpose, each presented their own challenges. Handled combs, like the wide-tooth and rattail, were the most ergonomically pleasing. Handleless combs proved both messier and spikier, with no ideal spot to grip.
Teeth size also played a role: Fine teeth were flimsier and arched out of the way when met with harder garnishes like croutons and chickpeas, but wide teeth had rounded ends, rendering the tools useless when it came to puncturing and transporting lettuce from bowl to mouth.
It quickly became apparent that stabbing, that traditional method of eating a salad, was off the table for this venture because of the inherent shortcomings of these tools as eating devices. Each combful of food lacked both heft and an equilibrium of ingredients.
Gripped by growing feelings of hunger and frustration, Slate pivoted to scooping, with positive results. Thanks to the laws of physics, shoving a flat, blunt object beneath a heap of greens and lifting upward did indeed move the salad closer to the maw, although the lack of a curved border typically found in forks and spoons led to a few casualties of fallen salad bits that littered the roped-off corner of Slate’s office where this experiment took place.
The most effective method was shoveling: hunched shoulders, bowl held aloft to the lips, comb rapidly ferrying food from vessel to mouth with the dexterity and determination of a child itching to escape the dinner table (this, by the way, is also the correct method for eating large amounts of rice with chopsticks, rather than grain by grain, as some chopsticks novices seem to think). Finally, satiation.
Can you eat a salad with a comb? Yes. Would we recommend it? Not particularly, especially if the comb comes with a layer of dead skin flakes and scalp oil, rather than the unused sterility of a hair tool newly purchased and disinfected with hand sanitizer.
But, if you are truly out of options, go ahead and shovel that salad—just don’t hand the lettuce-strewn comb to an aide to clean up afterward.