Posts Tagged ‘George Arliss’

Paying Tribute to the Green Goddess

Friday, April 9th, 2010

George Arliss in full rajah regalia (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)


I’ve been posting recipes for heavy dishes lately so I’m in the mood for a little salad! This dressing comes courtesy of a fellow blogger and film lover, Donna Hill.
Donna recently discussed the history of eating at the movies (with great photos and video clips!) on her blog, Strictly Vintage Hollywood. She concluded with a recipe for Green Goddess salad dressing, created at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel in 1923.
The herbally tinted salad dressing honored a hotel guest, the actor George Arliss. Arliss was then starring in a popular play titled The Green Goddess. He would go on to appear in both silent and sound film versions of the story.
The Green Goddess is a hoary chestnut full of imperialist ideas. Arliss played the Rajah of Rukh, a fictitious and stereotypical oriental potentate.
Shrewd but selfish and vindictive, the rajah threatens to execute a party of Englishmen who accidentally land in his kingdom—and tries to force the wife of one of the men to become his paramour.
When he is foiled by British aircraft flying to the rescue, the rajah proclaims sadly but proudly, “Barbarous Asia bows to civilized Europe.”
The play and film’s depiction of “Barbarous Asia” is appalling even by that day’s standards, but it is interesting as a period piece. A historian of colonialism could certainly make hay out of the stereotypes.
And Arliss came across as both elegant and funny in his wickedness—much more appealing and effective, in fact, than he was in the picture for which he won the Academy Award for best actor, Disraeli.
Neither film version of The Green Goddess is available on home video at present. Happily, the Alice Joyce Website offers stunning stills of the 1923 silent production. (Joyce played the object of the Rajah’s lust in both 1923 and 1930).
Turner Classic Movies occasionally shows the 1930 sound version and offers a couple of clips for viewing on its web site.
While you’re watching them, do try the dressing. If you’ve never had Green Goddess Dressing, imagine a cross between Caesar and ranch dressings. (I love both.) It’s smooth, flavorful, and tangy, and the herbs give it lovely green flecks. Thank you, Donna!

Green Goddess Dressing
1 clove garlic
4 anchovy fillets
1 scallion, chopped
1 generous tablespoon chopped parsley
1 generous tablespoon chopped chives
1 generous tablespoon tarragon or basil
the juice of 1 lemon
2 cups of mayonnaise (homemade is best, but commercial—even low fat—is fine; just avoid fat free)
salt and pepper to taste
Place the garlic and anchovy fillets in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until minced. Add the herbs and lemon juice, and process again; then add the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, and process again until smooth.
Taste for seasoning and adjust seasonings accordingly.
Serve over a split romaine heart. (Actually, I just shredded some romaine, which worked beautifully.) Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil or tarragon if you wish.
Makes about 2 cups of dressing. 


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