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Hope's Corner: Sauce for the Goose and Gravy for the Gander

"Fancy chefs talk about reductions of meat juices as a foundation for a roux. Or they change up the meat juice by calling it au jus, and then it immediately becomes a French dip. Fancy French chefs do not even acknowledge gravy as a side dish," writes Jackie Hope.

Jackie Hope BW.jpg
Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. Hope's Corner is a weekly humorous column with a message of hope. (CONTRIBUTED / FOR THE DICKINSON PRESS)

It is time that we all take gravy more seriously. Gravy does not get the culinary respect it deserves.

Fancy chefs talk about reductions of meat juices as a foundation for a roux. Or they change up the meat juice by calling it au jus, and then it immediately becomes a French dip. Fancy French chefs do not even acknowledge gravy as a side dish. Their gravies are part of elegant dishes like coq au vin (wined-up roast chicken) or boeuf bourguignon (wined-up roast beef).

In fact, at the website frenchbias.com, I learned the French find our deliciousness that is biscuits and gravy positively horrifying. They also refuse to acknowledge the delights of Jell-O, red velvet cake, and peanut butter. Yes, really. I would starve if I ever visited France.

But gravy. A pure delight that is savored in most English-speaking countries.

In England and Ireland, a Sunday roast is accompanied by gravy. They especially savor brown gravy, and it is even sold in fish and chips shops. Not for use with the fish, but with the chips.

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Chips in Britain are French fries. And in France, French fries are called fried potatoes. Without gravy. Just to muddy the water, and stir up the gravy, in Canada you can get gravy on your French fries at most fast food restaurants.

Canadian French fries are sometimes called chips, sometimes called fries, and are often called poutine. Poutine is a dish of American French fries, brown gravy, and cheese curds.

Okay, if you add some slices of ham to the top of that poutine and lay a slice of bread underneath it, it becomes a horseshoe sandwich. Horseshoes are a delicacy native to Springfield, IL.

In India, gravy is any thickened sauce. Thickened curry sauce is a popular Indian gravy, and a good curry sauce can pack more punch than habanero salsa. Hint: if you are dining on Indian cuisine, that dish of plain yogurt beside your plate is what you use to put out the fire in your mouth after a main course of curry.

And in America we have wonderful gravies with potatoes, rice, stuffing, and biscuits. We make chicken gravy, turkey gravy, roast beef gravy, roast pork gravy, and ham or sausage gravy. Heck, I love gravy so much, I even put it on hot rolls, instead of butter.

My friend, Rick’s, mom was from southern Indiana, and she was a gravy wizard. She was the cool mom, who could make pizza from scratch and who liked the Beatles. She made chicken and noodles with a gravy to die for. Her fried steak was beyond compare. And she was the person who taught me the wonderment of biscuits and gravy.

I did, however, give a pass to her gravy when she fried fish. Catfish gravy sounded a little fishy to me.

Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. "Hope's Corner" is a weekly humorous column centered on a message of hope for residents in southwest North Dakota.

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Dickinson Press, nor Forum ownership.

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