The last two times Kathryn and I were in France, we were impressed by all the fresh vegetables we found at local produce markets, but we were at a loss for how to prepare them. A salad seemed obvious, but the salad dressings in France aren’t particularly tasty. From what I’ve been told, most salads in France are dressed with homemade dressing, which is supposed to explain the lack of prepared dressing choices on supermarket shelves. Makes sense.
Several months ago I had a lightbulb go on over my head: Although bringing a bottle of salad dressing to France seemed silly — especially if it exploded all over my laundry — bringing a couple packets of ranch dressing mix and buying the mayonnaise and milk in-country seemed rather practical. For a few extra ounces of weight and a little extra space in my luggage, I also brought a plastic shaker bottle. I felt inspired.
After watching a few too many episodes of Border Security, my only mild concern was customs possibly taking the packet from me if they opened my bag. As it turned out, when our plane arrived at the airport in Montpellier, the customs officers didn’t. Nothing to worry about this time.
The snag came when we went to the supermarket to buy mayonnaise. It never occurred to me all the mayonnaise in France is made with mustard, which isn’t in standard American mayonnaise, at least not in any noticeable quantity. Screw it, we bought some anyway and prepared the dressing according to the usual recipe. And we’re glad we did.
With our French-style ranch dressing, Kathryn yesterday reinvented the BLT, using a baguette from the local bakery for the bread, fresh lettuce and tomatoes from a nearby produce merchant, and bacon from the supermarket. Oh-la-la! This evening she used it again to make us burgers with Emmenthal cheese, again on a fresh baguette and with some of the remaining tomatoes and lettuce and a red onion. Another masterpiece!
Sometime this week, perhaps we’ll even make a salad.