Love it or hate it: Ranch

by David Holub

Love itRanch dressing is that person everyone wants around all the time, the guy who is invited to every party, who lights up the room the moment he walks in, the guy who laughs at all your jokes and is quite witty himself. Ranch dressing is the colleague you go to to make sure the wording of a proposal is just right or the one person in the building who knows how to un-jam the copier or where the paper is kept. Ranch dressing is that character actor who is somehow in six of your top 10 movies. Ranch dressing is that thing that makes everything it touches better.

There is a long list of vegetables I’d never eat if ranch didn’t exist: Raw broccoli, raw carrots, cherry tomatoes, raw mushrooms, snap peas, to name a few. Ranch is the only reason the words “salad bar” light up pleasure centers in my brain. Salad is merely a vehicle for me to eat as much ranch as is socially acceptable.

Ranch and its spiced-up creaminess with a cool kick of tang can make otherwise discarded food items utterly enjoyable, like pizza crusts or Corn Nuts. It can make the ordinary extraordinary: Throw a sliver of red onion and dollop of ranch on any sandwich and hear me moan in delight.

Frankly, a world without ranch is not a world I want to live in.

— David HolubHate itRanch dressing is the greatest ruse perpetrated on 3-year-olds and their chicken nuggets and carrot sticks. Some foodie writer recently set off an internet firestorm when he said as much. Which is why we are holding court on it today.

People have been told from the time their wee taste buds were developing that throwing bland spices in with milk – the very thing that sustains them from their moment of birth – that has curdled is the best way to eat your vegetables. Have you ever skipped the spices and given buttermilk straight to a 3-year-old and watched her expression? No, you haven’t. That’s because children won’t eat something that smells like they do.

Instead, you make them think this gussied-up, thinned-out white sauce that our 1970s mothers bought in the form of powder in a packet and threw directly into a plastic tub of lame-brand sour cream is worthy of cult-like status because it makes you eat what you really don’t want to eat. And you keep giving it to them until they turn into adults who never developed a palate beyond the kids table. They become adults who order ranch at a restaurant, basically saying, “Please, chef, slather my iceberg lettuce in a tasteless glop of fat and help me decrease my chances of getting laid tonight.”

Buttermilk deserves better than chicken nuggets and carrot sticks. And so does your date.

— Amy Maestas


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