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N’Importe Quoi Photo of the Week: French Dressing?

French Dressing

I like La Grand Epicerie de Paris at Le Bon Marché and all of the wonderful foods — both French and exotic — it sells. But I can’t imagine what’s going through the mind of the French employee responsible for stocking the shelves of this chic supermarket with “Deluxe French” salad dressing.

When I was growing up,” French” was always my favorite salad dressing. Needless to say I was a bit dismayed to discover, upon moving to Paris in 1995, that there’s no similarity between the American version of “French Dressing” and the vinaigrette that is actually served. The French tend to use just oil and vinegar, as well as some herbs, salt, pepper and perhaps mustard. But never tomato paste nor cream, so it’s neither reddish nor the creamy orange shade you see in the bottle in this photo.

dressing label

There are probably two or three different salad dressing flavors found in the average French supermarket, maybe a few more exotic ones in the gourmet markets. But when you’re in a french restaurant, don’t expect your server to run down the list of available dressings for your salad. You get the dressing the chef puts on it (you can, if you ask nicely, ask for it without the dressing or served on the side).

If you find you can’t live without your French, Creamy Ranch, or Thousand Island dressing, you can get it in the American section of the Grand Epicerie (along with a few other colorful American foods the French find either fascinating or repulsive). I’m sure the “Naturally helps better absorb vitamins A & E” tagline on the bottle will have them scratching their heads (and wondering why it’s not sold in the pharmacy as a health supplement).


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  • Well, it can also be a shock for french people when they first arrive in US or UK. Nothing as efficient to make you homesick as trying "french bread" or "french mustard" ;)Eating good local food is usually your best option.

  • Traveling or living abroad is all about embracing the culture and realizing that what is strange or different isn't wrong and what is familiar is not always right. I had a hard time breaking my addiction to ranch dressing while living in Paris, but now that I've embraced homemade vinaigrette, I won't touch the creamy white goo anymore! I love the little things like this that make you realize where you come from!

  • It was a disappointment upon arriving that I had been lied to for so many years, but I still love it. So authentic.