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Wednesday Food: What’s the deal with ranch dressing?

Erika is busy today, so I’m going to share with you a reflection on what I regard as the grossest thing you can put on a salad: ranch dressing. My distaste for ranch likely stems from my sister’s habit of dipping literally every kind of foodstuff into it, but as I’ve become more and more “urban” and “cosmopolitan,” I’ve come to develop a refined snobbery toward ranch, regarding it as a predominantly suburban thing.

I know that there is a more or less constant canon of salad dressings — ranch, Italian, French (gross!), blue cheese, and thousand island — that can be obtained at any middle of the road restaurant, but for some reason I view ranch as the default for the suburbs, while some kind of vinegar-based dressing is the default in the city. Could it be that city people are in denial about the fact that they’re eating a salad and need to offset its healthiness? And yet suburban salads tend to be only marginally healthy in themselves, due to another suburban favorite: iceberg lettuce, which is basically congealed water. In the city, we are treated with salad greens that contain actual nutritional value, at the very least a nice romaine.

I’ve only recently come to enjoy eating green vegetables, but I think I can be forgiven for assuming I didn’t like them, given that the default form of green vegetables in a suburban environment is wilted iceberg lettuce slathered with lightly spiced mayonnaise.


June 16, 2010 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. I never really ate iceberg lettuce growing up, and always regarded ranch as completely gross, but just recently I decided to make my own ranch dressing, and you know what? It was pretty good. Buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, garlic, dehydrated onion powder, dried dill, salt and pepper. It went over a salad composed of iceberg lettuce, black beans, corn, tomatoes, red onion and, er, fried chicken.

    You know what else is good? The next day, you have like a quart minus a cup of buttermilk left over, and you can have rice with buttermilk and lime pickle for dinner.

    Comment by jms | June 16, 2010

  2. Ranch has always struck me as very decadent–especially when it is a flavour of Doritos. But not quite as decadent as that nasty concoction of a chip flavour called “everything.”

    Comment by Craig | June 16, 2010

  3. I’m intrigued by this rice with buttermilk and lime pickle idea.

    Comment by ben | June 16, 2010

  4. I considered becoming a vegetarian after eating the cheeseburger Doritos.

    Comment by micah | June 16, 2010

  5. I can relate to your hatred of Ranch dressing, which is absolutely disgusting. I hate Ranch dressing on pizza almost as much as I hate it on salad. I’d say that after Ketchup, Ranch dressing is the thing I’m mostly to judge people for using.

    I always used to pity the idiots who get salads at McDonald’s thinking they are somehow choosing the ‘healthy option’. Poor bastards.

    Comment by Jeremy | June 16, 2010

  6. cheeseburger Doritos

    what the fuck?

    Comment by jms | June 17, 2010

  7. I can relate. I liked ranch a whole lot when I was about 16 or 17 and worked as a bus boy at a steakhouse, but as I’ve grown up, I’ve basically come to hate it. I also have a sister who dips everything in ranch. Last week, we were out to eat because she was on the brink of moving to Texas. At this meal, “everything” included the tip of her fork with nothing on it.

    I think jms is right about homemade ranch dressing, but in advance of tomorrow, I confess to still being a snob towards it. At the aforementioned steakhouse, I was also a prep cook for a while, and making ranch dressing consisted of buttermilk + mayonnaise + “ranch seasoning” packet.

    Comment by Dave Mesing | June 17, 2010

  8. Oh and also, you know what is the most hilariously gross salad dressing? You know how when you go to a tonkatsu restaurant, they give you a side of finely shredded cabbage with a dollop of Russian dressing? At the Korean fried chicken place I frequent, they give you approximately the same thing, except in place of Russian dressing, they top the shredded cabbage with a squiggle of catsup and another squiggle of kewpie mayonnaise. Which, I’ve always known that that’s basically what Russian dressing is, but I never had to think about it before. Whatever, I eat it anyway.

    Comment by jms | June 17, 2010

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