I used to hate lettuce. Iceberg lettuce specifically. Mum used to package up in my school lunch sandwiches and on those hot, sticky summer days it would resemble pond slime more than a vegetable. If you took a bite before noticing, it would slide down your throat like mucus. Totally off.
Many of my contemporaries feel the same. One friend swore off the green stuff for years thanks to a steady childhood diet of iceberg lettuce with canned beetroot and grated carrot.
I have pretty much ignored the humble Iceberg until now. I have savoured the delights of cos lettuce, the bitterness of rocket, the sweetness of baby spinach garnished with a simple, tart dressing. Lettuce is good! Iceberg has been relegated to memories of my childhood, along with cassette players in cars and fluoro bike pants.
But suddenly … the iceberg is back. And it's groovier than ever.
I've eaten at two slightly posh restaurants recently. And there, sandwiched between the Yellowfin Tuna rubbed in Fennel and the 500-day grain fed Wagyu steak: two distinct modern incarnations of iceberg lettuce salad.
One was served with blue cheese, and radish. Totally simple, totally decadent, and totally delicious. The lettuce was crisp, crunchy and moist. The dressing creamy, but not overbearing. And the radish mon dieu! I didn't even realise I liked radish before this meal. I'm hoping my dining companions didn't notice how many helpings I had seriously this iceberg was good.
The next iceberg incarnation was just as delicious. Served with anchovies and capsicum, the trio of flavours just gelled. One of those menu items that tastes better than it looks in print. So, the iceberg is back.
Nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton says while darker lettuce is better for you, there's nothing bad in an iceberg.
"It's 96 per cent water. And on a summer's day, there's nothing better than a cold, crunchy lettuce."
And it seems Aussies agree. Trends start at the top. While our fanciest eateries are serving more of the humble iceberg, Australians are stocking their trollies with record numbers of lettuces particularly icebergs.
In the past six months alone Coles supermarkets have sold a whopping 12 million icebergs a growth of nearly 14 per cent on the same time last year.
Turns out the humble iceberg ain't so humble after all.