All meals is regional. Whether or not it’s an entrée similar to deep-dish pizza from Chicago, a lobster roll from Maine, or a plate of jambalaya from Louisiana. Soups are additionally regional – clam chowder, gumbo, cioppino, and Frogmore stew.
There are additionally many regional condiments in America. Vermont lays declare to maple syrup, and it has been my expertise that true 100% pure Vermont maple syrup is value each penny and arduous to high. Maryland has Previous Bay seasoning. Up there they use it in crab boil, and regardless of the plethora of Creole seasonings on this a part of the world – together with my very own – I choose Previous Bay when I’m cooking shrimp.
Dukes mayonnaise comes from South Carolina and is probably going the primary ingredient in Alabama’s contribution to the regional condiment world – white barbecue sauce. In Chicago sandwich outlets, pickled cauliflower, celery, carrots, and spices are mixed to create giardiniere which, to the Italian beef sandwich, is similar as olive salad to the New Orleans muffuletta. Ranch dressing, the ketchup of the twenty first century, got here from California.
Pennsylvania has apple butter. Washington, D.C., has mambo sauce, and in Hawaii they baste their grilled rooster with huli huli sauce, which is a combination of pineapple juice, soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic and Worcestershire.
In Mississippi, the queen mom of all condiments is comeback sauce. We use it as an accompaniment to onion rings and fried dill pickles, and costume easy iceberg salads with it. Comeback is the offspring of the incestuous marriage of Thousand Island dressing and remoulade sauce. It’s the bastard little one of the Mississippi larder and it’s superior.
Comeback sauce is Greek in origin, however it’s 100% Mississippi. The versatile condiment was born on the Greek-owned Rotisserie Restaurant in Jackson within the center a part of the earlier century. From there it sprung up at the entire nice Jackson establishments run by hardworking Greek immigrant households – The Mayflower, The Elite, Paul’s Westside, Crechale’s and Invoice’s. It’s usually served in a easy salad of iceberg lettuce, a sliced tomato and some crumbles of feta cheese.
Malcolm White makes a wonderful comeback sauce at Hal and Mal’s and there are a number of different eating places within the Jackson space the place comeback may be discovered. By the Nineteen Nineties Mississippi’s home dressing had unfold all throughout the state.
I added comeback sauce to the Crescent Metropolis Grill menu within the early Nineteen Nineties. I tweaked a few the normal variations that have been printed in numerous Jackson cookbooks and have at all times been very pleased with the outcomes. It’s probably the most requested recipes in my e mail inbox and probably the most downloaded recipes on my web site.
Final week I used to be having lunch with a pal at The Mayflower in downtown Jackson. It’s the oldest surviving downtown Jackson restaurant, and nearly the final man standing in the case of the old-line Greek joints. Over the previous 40 years, I’ve by no means eaten within the Mayflower and never gotten a salad with comeback sauce. I nearly at all times order onions rings. However what I find yourself doing is dipping saltine crackers into the comeback sauce and consuming that mixture as a further appetizer.
I may make a meal out of saltine crackers dipped in comeback sauce, however I might by no means take up a desk in such a small eating room and order a facet of comeback and a basket of crackers. So, I order one thing off of the menu – all of which is superb and has stood the check of time – and eat most of it whereas ordering extra crackers and comeback.
I do the identical in catfish homes (one other Mississippi staple). Many of the good fish homes place a bowl of candy, mayonnaisey coleslaw subsequent to a basket of Captain’s Wafers on the desk firstly of the meal. Coleslaw and Captain’s Wafers are the chips and salsa of the fish home world. I may make a meal of simply Coleslaw and Captain’s Wafers, too, however I order fish and fries to be well mannered.
Crackers earlier than a meal are a traditional old-line restaurant transfer. As a child I ate at the entire outdated seafood homes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast – The Friendship Home, The White Pillars, Mary Mahoney’s, Annie’s, and my favourite again then, Baricev’s. I ate my first uncooked oyster at Bariceiv’s. I additionally often made a meal out of the Captain’s Wafers and butter pats that have been in a basket within the desk and was not often capable of eat the fried shrimp I ordered as an entrée.
Whether or not it’s used as a salad dressing, an accompaniment for onion rings, a condiment for cheeseburgers, a facet sauce for fried pickles, or as a dip for saltine crackers, comeback sauce is a real Mississippi unique.
ROBERT ST. JOHN is a restaurateur, chef and writer. Discover his recipe for Comeback Sauce at robertstjohn.com.