Vinaigrette is any dressing made from oil and vinegar. French dressing implies vinaigrette and the many variations that were created. Britain and America made French dressing popular in the 1880’s. Because people realized how healthy salads were, many recipes have been created for the use of French dressing.
Vinaigrette is from the form of French vinaigre, which is commonly known as vinegar. It was first used in 1699 but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that Vinaigrette came onto the scene on its own. In French, vinaigrette was used to describe a carriage which resembled a vinegar seller’s cart. In Europe, Vinaigrette is also known as French dressing and it is the common salad dressing in the western world. Various flavorings to suit anyone’s taste is added to the mixture of oil and vinegar, using salt and pepper to taste. It is used on green salad and can be used to marinate various meat products, acting as a tenderizer.
By 1880, French dressing was becoming increasingly popular, mixing three parts oil to one part vinegar coupled with added seasonings like mustard or bleu cheeses. Presently, there are many new additions which has created Green Goddess, Thousand Island, Russian, Roquefort and ranch dressings. Dressings that were bottled had the greatest impact. In 1915, Hellmann’s deli style mayonnaise had the greatest impact. Kraft created the now popular Miracle Whip and the coral colored French dressing. Homemakers throughout the world enjoyed these convenience dressings. They seemed to taste even better than home cooked creations and of course cut the amount of time used in preparing these dressings. In the 1960’s, Julia Child, a master chef in her own right, instructed her viewers on how to make vinaigrette, using various herbs and spices to create a unique taste.
Using crisp mixed greens, or potato salad with the French flair, or the Mediterranean way of combining greens, vegetables, tuna, olives, eggs and anchovies, there is no doubt that vinaigrette is the dressing that compliments those dishes. The oil and the vinegar cannot be the “run of the mill” ingredients. For the authentic French dressing, you will need to use red or white wine vinegar; it cannot be very strong or pungent. Using this type of vinegar is a definite compliment to extra virgin olive oil, another classic with a very mellow taste.
Prior to 1880’s, French style dressings were simply known as dressings or salad dressing. Often this dressing contained egg, a carry over from the ancient Roman ways. The name French dressing did not show up in the American cookbook until after the 1880’s.
Whether you purchase a name brand bottled vinaigrette or choose to make your own unique signature dressing, always remember to use top quality extra virgin olive oil and either a red or white wine vinegar. With the added herbs and spices, you can create variations that are unique to your creative abilities. You just may have a winning creation that may taste better than Kraft’s and Hellman‘s dressings.
oil and vinegar, vinaigrette, salad dressing