Friday, October 16, 2009

green goddess dip

What could be more retro than green goddess dressing? Doesn't it sound like something Betty Draper would serve at one of her totally sad dinners? She would put the bowl of dip on the coffee table on some sort of kitschy, Matthew Weiner-approved tray and Sally Draper would come barreling into the room and spill the dip all over her fainting couch. Betty would get that scary, unhinged, Betty Draper look on her face and say, "You ruin everything. Go to your room. NOW!" The fainting couch would always have a faint green stain, a reminder that Betty's fantasy adult life would be forever marred by children and domesticity.

Sorry. Something about green dip with potato chips sounded perfectly Mad Men to me.

But, as it turns out, I'm completely wrong and the dressing may date all the way back to the 1920s. According to various food historians, it was first made at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco as a tribute to actor George Arliss who stayed in the hotel while performing in the popular play The Green Goddess. According to Wikipedia it's a story "of three English people who crash land in an Indian kingdom in which the Raja threatens to execute them if the British execute his half-brothers." Sounds fun! And totally makes me think of salad dressing!

Whether it's used as a dip or salad dressing, green goddess is traditionally a mixture of mayonnaise, anchovies, tarragon vinegar, parsley, scallions, garlic, and other spices. My recipe, which I whipped up for our cocktail party last weekend, had several differences, mostly the addition of sour cream, an avocado, and basil. Rich, tangy, and flecked with herbs, it lived up to the image I had in my mind, kind of like a creamy, herbal version of guacamole. It might not have been from the right decade, but it had just the right amount of retro appeal.
Green goddess dressing
From Bon Appetit
(Serves 8 to 10 people)

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 anchovy fillets
1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, quartered
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine lemon juice, anchovies, shallot, vinegar, and garlic in processor. Blend until shallot and garlic are finely chopped. Add avocado, sour cream, parsley, tarragon, and basil; blend until almost smooth. With machine running, add olive oil through feed tube in thin stream. Transfer dip to small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. Serve with chips, vegetables, or poached, chilled shrimp.


budji said...

Hi Lisa,
I just stumbled upon your foodblog. I love it, the recipes are simple and delicious to make. There are a lot of business ideas here and the stories are nice and intimate. Wishing you more happy cooking.
God bless,

Unknown said...

I love the color of the dip. Green is my favorite color to eat. Thanks for sharing the food history, I love learning about stuff like that.

Lisa said...

Budji: Thanks! Glad you like the site.

Tender Branson: I'm a sucker for food history too.

Daniel said...

Can't you picture Don staring into the bowl of dip and getting lost in a memory of childhood (like maybe all the men in town called his real ma the green goddess)?

Then he snaps out of it and comes up with a brilliant ad campaign: "What makes your wife a goddess in the kitchen? There's a place in her soul that's ever green..."

Lisa said...

Daniel: Ha! I'm glad at least one person is with me on my Mad Men fantasies.


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