Sunday, July 28, 2013

Thousand Island Dressing:

Time To Get Retro! (And Not Ironically)

One of my earliest memories in life was standing next to the apartment building I lived in with my folks many, many years ago in da' hood. I had a very small pocketful of Hot Wheel cars. I was happily playing by myself, building little roads in the dirt that I could "vrooom" my cars through. Before long, another little boy came appeared who also had some Hot Wheels. We played there together for what I remember to be ages. We were having such a grand time playing with our cars. Eventually he asked me how old I was. I remember holding up three fingers and expressing, quite enthusiastically, "I'm fwee!!". Please believe me. It wasn't shtick. I wasn't doing it to be cute. The harsh reality was that it was due to my pure inability, at the time, to negotiate proper tongue/lip movements coupled with my limited understanding of the English language. Give me a break, after all, I was only fwee.

I recall that we played for quite some time afterwards. In fact, we had become quite good friends. Inseparable, as it were. Well at least until later that day when he went back to wherever it was he came from. I never saw him again. Kinda sad actually but such is life. Funny how such an oddball and insignificant memory can stick with you for so many years.

It was a much simpler time back then. And so was the food. Your choices were not nearly as plentiful as they are now. It was a time when a salad was just a salad. There were no options. We didn't have arugula, endive, and radicchio. It was iceberg only, dude. And we liked it! Crap, I sound like an old geezer. My apologies. 

Now here I am, decades later, sitting at my computer writing about the wonders of iceberg lettuce. There's something about the crunchiness of it that I adore. It's refreshing. It's tangible. It's satisfying. Arugula? It's bitter. Fragile. Cowardly. It can't even hold it's own weight. It's so...pusillanimous (Google it). I bet iceberg used to beat arugula up in the school yard. It's better suited for a light vinaigrette made of olive oil and splash of lemon. Don't get me wrong, that's all well and good. But a good Thousand Island dressing would kill it dead just looking at it. 

Let me tell you, I find humor in the fact that I don't know anyone these days that would have a dinner party and serve their guests iceberg lettuce with big hunks of carrot, tomato, and onion in it. And, what's even funnier is that I don't know anyone who would serve that kind of salad with Thousand Island dressing. I mean really, it's just so.....uncivilized. 

There was a restaurant in my town that shall remain unnamed within this blog post. It closed down a number of years ago. There was a separate bar where you could go drink and then there was the adjoining dining room. We used to go in there for the happy hour once in a while because it did have a decent happy hour. And there were, admittedly, infrequent times when we would go eat dinner as well. There wasn't a window in the place. It was dark like a cave. The interior was like walking straight into the 1970's. Many years ago, it was considered a really nice place to go eat. And, to their credit, it was good. Dated, but good. Then one day, poof, it was closed. No warning, just gone.

Over the several years I'd been going to that place, I noticed one thing. The menu NEVER changed and the clientele NEVER changed either. As the years rolled by, their customers' hair got bluer and bluer and bluer, until it just couldn't get any bluer. And then they died. Then guess what happened. The place didn't have any more customers. There was no adaptation. No re-birth. No metamorphosis. They were in an evolutionary time-warp. And eventually, like the bluest of blue-hairs, it died too. Such is life.

One of my fondest memories of the place was the super old school salad bar. That's right. Iceberg only, dude! Big hunks of carrots, tomato, and onion. And, you guessed it, Thousand Island dressing. Where the modern diner shunned it, I embraced it. And not "ironically" either. But, alas, I just couldn't make up for the scores of long-since-gone blue hairs. I tried. But I failed.  

I reckon that someday, many, many years from now, my favorite restaurant will go out of business shortly after my soon to be beautiful head of gray hair (not blue) has been lain to rest, hopefully in some sort of fiery Viking style funeral. And my wife's blue hair (not gray) gets bluer as the days walk on by. But, again, such is life.....

In the meantime, if you are ever invited to my house for dinner. Don't be surprised if you get a bowl of iceberg only (dude), with a glop of Thousand Island on top. O.G. style. The upside? It'll be Thousand Island dressing, homemade with love.

There are occasions when I come across recipes that need no adjustments. This is one of those occasions. This dressing was found here

Thousand Island Dressing


  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp of kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup of prepared or homemade mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup of chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced onion
  • 2 tsp sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 hard boiled egg, finely chopped (see note below)
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste


1. Add all ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. 

2. Refrigerate for an hour or so to let the flavors meld. 

Makes About 1 1/2 cups

Note: This recipe should keep for about 5-7 days if stored refrigerated in an airtight container. If you want to make it last 2 weeks, leave the egg out. 

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