Healthy Restaurant Eating

By The Restaurant Dieter

Hudson’s Maurice Salad is full of great memories

Hudson’s (Now Macy’s) Maurice Salad

After a week at home eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, my mom and I recently sat down to a Maurice Salad and memories of growing up in better times for Detroit.

This is a main dish salad that in no way can be called light. Be forewarned: This will not be a column about how to eat healthy at restaurants.

A family visit simply isn’t a good time to diet. You dump your suitcase at the door and pick up the baggage that you’ve been carrying since birth. In The Restaurant Dieter’s case, that means the plus-sized poundage and the eating habits that lead to it.
I’ve attempted to fight this in the past, mostly unsuccessfully. Then guilt sets in and propels me to the cookie jar for another biscotti. In the last couple of years, I’ve had more luck making peace with the knowledge that I’ll stumble and that I’ll return to the virtuous path when the visit is over.
My visit to Detroit is a monthly effort to give my sister, who cares for my mom, a break. Mom has made a good recovery from her stroke 13 years ago. But the stroke’s effects combined with general aging require the presence of another adult. She is no longer the fireball who kept all the trains running on time, and that alone can be enough reason for emotional eating. But going out to dinner or lunch is  something we can do together and gets Mom out of the house.
So we found ourselves at Macy’s at the Southfield Mall in Taylor, Mich. We went in search of this famed Hudson’s Maurice Salad. To this day, I’ve never been to another restaurant that serves this salad. A recipe for the dressing is pretty common on the Internet, though it’s unclear if it was ever officially sanctioned by the store. I’ve had reasonable success provided I substitute two mashed egg yorks for the hard-cooked egg that’s called for.

By now, the native Detroiters have been waiting for me to mention that this salad is not a Macy’s phenomenon at all. It has its roots in the heyday of Detroit’s most prominent retailer, J.L. Hudson, which was acquired first by the Marshall Field chain and later Macy’s. In Detroit’s heyday, J.L. Hudson’s downtown Detroit was the store by which all others were judged, where the ladies lunched and where the Maurice Salad was born. Before suburbanites gave up on Detroit, Mom took me on the bus downtown to shop and get herself a Maurice Salad. The whole store was magical, especially at Christmas. Detroit unsuccessfully fought off, then mourned, the demise of this landmark.

Presented on a platter, Maurice Salad is a fairly common composition of julienned head lettuce, ham, turkey, swiss cheese and pickle. What distinguished the Maurice from an ordinary chef salad was the rich, yellow-green, eggy and lemony dressing.

The damage from a single serving of Maurice Salad is listed at one website at 479 calories with 27 grams of fat, but that still seems undercounted given the size of the portion and the fact that I nearly licked the plate clean. The two portion cups of dressing alone would yield 200 calories and 20 grams of fat if counted as a standard mayonnaise.

And then, because Mom has developed quite a sweet tooth, we had to go for Stroh’s Ice Cream, another institution from Detroit’s heyday. The ice cream line was added by the Stroh Brewery Co. in the 1920s when Prohibition rendered its beer business illegal. It wound up being profitable enough that the company kept it after Prohibition ended.

Lots of real chips

Nowhere will you find a chocolate chip with so many chocolate chips. And these are not the odd-sized little drips and shavings that are typical in ice creams. These are real, plump bittersweet chips. One is ensured a chocolate crunch with each creamy bite.

This past weekend wasn’t a diet adventure at all. But it was a lovely walk down memory lane with Mom. The whole grains will always be there.

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  1. My daughter and I share your experience of dining at the old J.L. Hudson's restaurant. I believe I ordered the Maurice the first time I ate there as an adult(around 1980) and have NEVER ordered anything else. I simply love it and I'm so glad they serve it just the way they did back then at the Lakeside Grill inside Oakland Mall. I ran across your post while looking for photos of the salad for my own blog. Today I'm writing about my favorite things. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Venus, thanks so much for your comment. I have found a pretty good recipe for the dressing on the Internet. If you'd like it, let me know

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