Salad dressing so good you could eat it with a spoon (and a few thoughts on how you dress your salad may reveal your social class)

Salad cream.”  Sounds awful, doesn’t it?  It is.  I’ve traveled twice to Scotland, and I don’t know if this is true of all the U.K.*, but everywhere we went, there was ONE salad dressing, and it was like Thousand Island without the relish, a gloppy travesty to put atop the most wonderful vegetables I’ve eaten anywhere.  My salads went bare.  Good veggies deserve a good dressing.  Even mediocre veggies can be made palatable by a good sauce.

I will buy grocery store standards if I can get a screamin’ deal on them.  I bought two bottles of Kraft dressing last night for $0.17 each, due to a sale plus a coupon.  It’s hard to pass that up, especially when I know that my 11yo son will likely hyperventilate with joy over the Bacon Ranch that’s now chilling in our fridge.  However, my love is for all natural, somewhat quirky dressing flavors that Kraft and Wishbone would never dream of producing.

Into the dressing discussion enters my son Wesley.  Due to serious digestive issues, Wesley can eat no gluten and no dairy.  It’s fairly easy to find gluten-free dressing, but gluten-free and dairy-free poses a challenge.  Rather, it poses a challenge if you’re 7 years old and don’t like vinaigrettes.  His standard dressing for a good 2+ years has been a store brand, Kroger’s Private Selection Honey Dijon.  It used to be $2.99 a bottle, often going on sale for $2.00 – 2.50.  I can handle that.  However, its price has recently shot through the roof, and is now normally priced at $4.39.  I refuse to pay that much for salad dressing, no matter how spectacular it is.  So, I’ve been on an especial hunt for a good gluten-free, dairy-free salad dressing that is not too vinegar-y, is creamy, tasty, and preferably all-natural.

I found one!  Maybe it doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but for a boy whose diet is severely restricted, and is picky with what he can eat, on top of what he can’t eat, to switch salad dressing allegiances is nothing short of miraculous.

Following is a glowing review of Briannas ‘The New American Dressing.’  Before I get to that, though, I want to address a couple of things:

  1. What’s with the apostrophe avoidance???  Did some marketer tell them, “Those dumb Americans.  They don’t know how to use punctuation, and possessives positively confuse them… If you keep the apostrophe in your company’s name, it will surely drive away customers, because they’ll think you’re too biggety.  Cut it, OK?”  So, now it’s Briannas — which brings to the imagination twenty girls named Brianna, making salad dressing in a factory — instead of Briannas, which would be a company named for its creator, or the owner’s daughter or something.  Like Wendy’s.  Or, even better — plural possessive — Bashas, which is a local grocery chain — owned by a number of people with the last name of Basha — that makes me want to shop there just to support them sticking to their punctuation guns.  Hey, Briannas:  this book is for kids, but you might wanna check it out.
  2. And, what presumption!!  Everyone salad-eating American knows what Italian dressing is, or even French dressing.  There are other standards, too, like blue cheese and ranch.  However, it’s my guess that Italian dressing did not establish itself by a bunch of Italian guys banding together, coming up with a recipe, then hiring a marketing company to promote its new product as “The” Italian dressing.  So… I find it a bit off-putting that Briannas has decided, on our behalf, that as Americans, this will be our dressing.  It’s kind of like crafting your own nickname, and trying to make it stick.  Didn’t George show us, lo these many years ago, that such action is folly (“The Maid” — episode 19)?

Anyways.  Despite its wanton disregard for punctuation, and presumptive naming practices, Briannas has crafted a dressing that is just about perfect.  It is tangy without tasting solely of vinegar; a bit sweet (from honey!) without tasting like you’ve dumped liquid candy on your lettuce; the perfect consistency — slightly thickened, but not gloppy (and creamy yet not containing dairy!); all-natural, made without gluten- or milk-derived ingredients, though not actually labelled as gluten-free or dairy-free.

It meets with both my hearty approval, and my 7yo son’s, too.  He puts it on his salad.  And his chicken.  And his carrots.  He’d eat it with a spoon, if we’d let him.

The price is at least reasonable.  Though it is $4.19 at my “regular” grocery store, it’s only $2.99 at the natural grocery I go to every couple of weeks, and where I found it on sale for only $2.00 a few weeks ago.

It may or may not become the standard American dressing, but its a new standard in our home.  Yum.


* According to my favorite British blogger, salad cream usage is tied to social class:

The UK has changed a lot as far as food goes – but it’s quite amazing how much of it is still down to social class. … My parents, who were from the North of England, used salad cream.  I loved it as a child but would regard it as an utter horror to put salad cream anywhere near a salad now.  I’ll either use nothing or a plain olive oil/lemon/ground black pepper type thing dressing.  Or just a little olive oil.  With balsamic vinegar, perhaps.  But usually nothing.  You certainly won’t find salad cream in any London restaurants (not even the chains like Pizza Express) though you will find it in McDonalds.  Basically, the middle classes within the M25 stopped using salad cream a long time ago.

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on May 24, 2009, in Cooking/Baking/Food/Recipes, Dairy-free, GFCF, gluten-free, Reviews, Scotland, Travelling. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’m going to go through your blog roll (I’ve moved blogs, regular Karen readers) and I’d better find more than one British blogger 🙂

    On the Briannas site, the FAQ says about the name “Del Sol Food Company, Inc. is a family owned business. The name BRIANNAS is a combination of two family member names, Marianne and Brian.” which makes even less sense than losing the apostrophe.

    • I only put my favorites on my blogroll, Michael. 😉 I do have one Scotsman on the list, mackle; I don’t think he considers himself British. And Helen. She’s an ex-pat, right? Or does she have her Australian citizenship? Does she consider herself British? I’d have to ask. I certainly don’t want to slight her, as she is one of my faves, too. 🙂

  2. glutenfree4goofs

    You crack me up, I love the things you notice. I’m particular but I am lousy with punctuation. I remember writing a letter to Toys R Us when I was a kid because I was upset that they print the R backward. I thought it assumed that kids are not intelligent and furthermore set a bad example. 🙂 I was probably 10yrs old. Now I’m reading thrice 🙂 to see if I made any major mistakes.

  3. Wow, I didn’t know salad cream was a social class thing in England. That would explain why I didn’t try it living in London then. I just remember they had really thick mayo and drowned things like coleslaw and tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches in it.

    Food in Britain is incredibly class based, I think it was one place you still saw the residuals of the class system. That country has some of the most amazing restaurants and food in the world and some of the worst. I think that’s why I liked the Jamie’s School Dinners and the on Ministry of Food programmes so much on TV!

    I find dressings in America quite fascinating too – you guys are definitely more into them than we are in NZ. Though I have to tell you that until about ten years ago, we probably mostly made our own mayo at home and it was a charming concoction of egg yolk, vinegar, oil, mustard powder and…. condensed milk!!!!!!! I kid you not.

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