Arguments over food are fun because the stakes are usually incredibly low. It’s easy for someone to say, “Only monsters like ketchup” or “Peanut butter cups are the best candy and everything else is trash” or “if you serve me home fries I will throw a plate at your head.” It’s not like the debate goes anywhere. Everyone argues, offers their hard takes, and then all of us go on eating whatever the hell we like. Whereas political debates actually have some bearing on our lives, food debates are just a diversion. They’re play time.
Unless someone messes with ranch. Then it’s on with some ’90s east coast/west coast-level heat. Which is how things are going down today. Here’s the situation: New York Magazine’s food blog, Grub Street, wrote a nice little piece on the resurgence of ranch a few weeks back. It was an ode, pretty light reading. The author laid out how ranch has been maligned, and it’s current resurgence — with chefs across the country finding ways to feature the condiment on their menus. All was good, until…
This morning, when the Washington Post fired back with the Hit ‘Em Up of food rants, titled, “Ranch dressing is what’s wrong with America.” Which we can all probably agree is a little dramatic. It had some doozy lines too. Like this gem:
First, it’s disgusting. It tastes like exactly what it is, which is milk that’s halfway rotten. Why would anyone want to take something that they would throw out if they unexpectedly smelled it in their fridge and put that on their salad?
That paragraph reveals the author’s shaky handle on dairy-foods. Plenty of wonderful foods are based on bacteria cultures. Using this logic, the “halfway rotten” argument might also apply to a whole smattering of cheeses, anything fermented, etc.
Things got hotter:
Second, diners are using it incorrectly. Putting ranch on salad at least has a rationale: Many people don’t appreciate vegetables and feel compelled to slather everything in processed fat. Fine. But why would anyone use it on french fries? Because deep-fried food isn’t greasy and caloric enough? And putting it on pizza — a horrifying, common practice — is insane because pizza is already dripping with mozzarella. It’s completely redundant, wildly unhealthy and disrespectful to any halfway decent pizza, the chef who made it and to the Italian people who gave it to us.
So, basically: “Fuck Ranch Dressing as a staff, food product, and as a motherfucking crew. And if you want to be down with Ranch Dressing, fuck you too!”
Ohhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiit! Did he just tell people how to eat their pizza? Horrible call. Don’t do that, especially not in such a sanctimonious tone. Especially if your argument is ignorant of the fact that the cheapness of ranch, and its ability to give flavor to flavorless foods is inextricably tied to the modern fetishization of the product. Because that means that your food rant is embedded with some complicated class stuff.
Those are some of the nicer comments. The general sentiment was “you’re not the boss of me” but there was also a lot of “this is why people hate liberals.”
In short: We are ranch lovers. We are legion. DON’T MESS WITH US.
You know the tide has turned against you when the fake Neil deGrasse Tyson accounts come calling.
The pity is that the rant was embedded with some interesting thoughts on ecology and cows and methane, most of which were lost on everyone, expect for those who paid close attention to better point out hypocrisy.
Is there a lesson? Not really. “Pick more chill headlines,” maybe. Or “don’t call someone’s favorite condiment ‘lowbrow’ unless you’re ready to speak to the bigger themes that word brings up.” Or maybe it’s simply, “Don’t ever smack talk how people consume pizza.” Probably the last one.