Great Moments in San Francisco Food History: Green Goddess

Improbable but true: A play about a peculiar hostage situation in India served as the inspiration for a salad dressing invented in San Francisco. The successful Green Goddess starred George Arliss both on stage and in the later filmic version. When the play toured through S.F. in 1923, green goddess dressing — a creamy concoction rendered the vert hue from the inclusion of chervil, chives and tarragon — was created as a special offering to Arliss and company during their stay at the Palace Hotel.

The film didn't receive raves, but apparently had some good proto-special effects.

“To give this film its due it should be set forth that the death of Watkins, the Rajah's valet, is pictured most effectively, for one perceives him falling from the palace window to the depths of a mountain canyon,” wrote NYT film critic Mordaunt Hall in a 1930 review.

Today, executive chef Jesse Llapitan at the Garden Court at the Palace Hotel still serves the hotel's famous green goddess dressing drizzled atop a salad of Dungeness crab, avocado, tomato and green beans for the low-low of $26. —Tamara Palmer

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