So just what is a Solomon Grundy? An elaborate salad of cold meat, hot or cold vegetables, eggs, anchovies, fruit, almost anything, artistically arranged in circles on a large plate. While the dish was served as early as the fifteenth century, as Ayrton tells us, and Patrick Lambe, chef to the courts of Charles II and Anne, documents the dish in his Royal Cookery (see Hale), the name is muddled, spelled in almost as many ways as the dish can be prepared: Salad Magundy, Salmagundy, Solomon Grundy, Salamagundy. Perhaps the name comes from the French (sal ‘salt’ + condir ‘to season’? Old French salmigondis ‘mixture’?); it has come to be used metaphorically for any hodge-podge or curious mixture.
It's the contrast of the pungency of the pickles with the crispness of the fresh vegetables, the contrast of the meats with the greens, the variety of the colours, the variety of the flavours that makes the dish a success, Grigson feels. It's a clean-out-your-larder recipe, and as such, fell from grace with the class-consciousness of the cuisine of the Victorian era.