My family loves salads, which means we have about 15 different types of salad dressing. Greek dressing. Italian dressing. French Dressing. Ranch Dressing. I also love a good dipping sauce, like Chic-Fil-A’s Polynesian sauce.
If you notice, with one exception, all of the dressings I had use a country’s name in it. Or a region, like Polynesia. However, have you ever thought what an Italian would say if you showed them Italian dressing?
“What? You call that Italian? That’s just an herby vinaigrette!”
And for the life of it, I can’t figure out how that red goop is attributed to France, or sometimes Russia, maybe even Catalina. What American came up with these ideas?
In case you’re wondering, I think Dutch Dressing would be just plain mayonnaise.
Ranch dressing, my one exception, is not called by anything in America other than ranch, just like Italian dressing would just be called vinaigrette in Italy. Ranch dressing, believe it or not, was not invented until the late 1950’s in America, where it was only sold at one Ranch until 1973, when they started selling dried mixes. It was until 1983, the year before I was born, that you could buy ranch dressing on a shelf. By the 1990’s, ranch dressing had cemented its place as America’s favorite dressing.
But, many places in the world don’t have it!
A former exchange student I met in the Netherlands asked me if I had brought any ranch dressing with me, because she couldn’t get anywhere in the Netherlands, and really missed it.
I thought, when I come back I should bring some ranch with me. Or at least some dried packets to mix with the fabulous Dutch mayonnaise. Bring ranch, funky M&M’s and Chic-Fil-A sauce to the Netherlands; bring home mayo, stroop waffles, and licorice. But, that was about the extent I thought about it.
However, last week a friend of mine sent me that photo of a specialty flavor Doritos. For Americans, we call them Cool Ranch Doritos. But apparently, elsewhere, ranch dressing is known as American dressing. So, the Dutch call them Cool American Flavor Doritos.
I guess I was wrong when I said that there was no food or flavor that was uniquely American. Ranch. We are ranch flavor.
This all reminded me of one time when I was at a conference on diversity and immigration issues, and a speaker actually talked about ranch dressing. He said we accept people from all countries and backgrounds into this country, but then we just end up pouring Ranch Dressing on their traditions.
We do this metaphorically, but we also literally do it as well. Cilantro Lime Ranch? Ginger Miso Ranch? Curry Ranch? Basically, Mexican American dressing, Japanese American dressing, and Indian American dressing. Let’s take these ethnic flavors and mix it with bland, white goop. Cool American Doritos have me thinking about this on a whole different level.
You never knew salad dressing could be so political, did you?
I live in Athens, Georgia, with my son, my husband, and an ever-revolving list of exchange students, who are a never-ending source of entertainment and writing material.