Iceberg with Russian Dressing

Iceberg in Russian DressingI feel like I’m drowning. Not in water or custard or paperwork, but in news.

I spend the day refreshing the homepages of my usual information websites, running away from my computer for a while, coming back, rinsing, lathering, repeating. I go to bed exhausted, yet sometimes too anxious to sleep for hours. When I wake up, my first thoughts are typically along the lines of, “Oh Sweet Jesus, what happened while I was unconscious?” I then open my browser and the cycle starts all over again.

My breakfast consists of reports on the Mueller investigation, Syria, the state of Maggie Smith’s health, and who’s left the White House today and which more frightening person is filling their shoes. My dinner is more or less a re-hash by pundits who help break down the news for me because I am so often overwhelmed with information that I can’t sufficiently digest it all unaided.

In between, I do my best to have a sensible lunch.

I’ve been getting so little accomplished lately in part because my fear of missing out on the latest updates has become a bit of an addiction and not a fun one like Plant vs. Zombies or The Great British Bake Off. But over the past few months I have, however, gotten rather good at pronouncing Russian names. Kislyak, Veselnitskaya, and Emelianenko dribble off my tongue like hot beef borscht, often trickling down my chin and onto the front of my shirt, which is extremely maddening, I must say.

Since I wrote that first sentence stating that I feel like I’m drowning, I have clicked over to the BBC homepage once and Washington Post twice.

There is so much freaking awful going on in the world and it all seems to be happening so fast that I simply can’t process it all. And it’s made me feel that anything I do– anything I write about– is unimportant. That I have no right to tell my stories with people dying, democracies undermined, and the whole planet going to hell. It’s a ridiculous notion, I know, but it’s been rather difficult to shake lately.

For some reason, my therapist thinks this is all rather unhealthy. He’s (quite rightly) pointed out that there have always been terrible things happening all around us, but that should never stop people from living their own lives and telling their own stories. Or, you know, people who write from writing stuff.

And I suppose he’s right. We just agreed that I need to limit my news intake and implement a bit more self-care. I’ve failed today in that I paused writing this post to check the news, but I have ultimately succeeded by having actually written something today.

I think that’s progress. Yes. I double checked my sources– it is definitely progress. It is, however a struggle.

So in an effort to please my head doctor, I’ve closed the tabs to my Facebook and news pages for now and tossed a slim volume of Truman Capote onto my couch for later. For when I come back from taking a long walk where I’ll try to think of one or two actual nice things for a half hour or so. Which I’ll open after I pour myself a glass of Beaujolais from the bottle I didn’t dare finish off with last night’s salmon. Not polishing off an entire bottle of wine in an evening is also a struggle. But it’s a healthier substitution for bourbon, so that is also definitely progress.

In the meantime, since largely about me eating my feelings, I will leave you with a recipe you will most likely never want to make.

Iceberg Wedge Drowning in Russian Dressing

Since everything seems to be tainted with the stuff in some form or other– possible government colluding, election tampering, troll farming, spy poisoning, Assad-bolstering– I figured it’s as good a time as any to whip up a batch and wallow in it for a little while, then take a very hot, soapy shower and get on with my day.

I can’t imagine anyone actually following through and concocting this recipe, which is excellent because it saves me so much time recipe testing. Thank you.

It’s one of those viscous mixtures that’s culinary death to the tender greens of a Springtime salad, but very much at home dripping down one’s wrists as it oozes from a hot Reuben. And now, if you are of a certain age, you have the image of The Partridge Family’s manager in your head and you will be upset. You are very welcome.

Makes approximately one gallon of Russian Dressing

Ingredients:

• 1 finely minced yellow onion
• 12 cups of mayonnaise. Really.
• 3 cups of tomato ketchup
• ¼ cup of hot sauce
• ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon of paprika
• A generous pinch or 12 of salt
• Iceberg lettuce, cut into 4 wedges

Preparation:

  1. Chop the onion so fine that it can mingle among the other ingredients for ages before it’s detected.
  2. In a (very) large bowl combine mayonnaise, ketchup, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and salt. Infiltrate with onion until smooth.
  3. Stand back and look at the gigantic mess of pink goo. If you smoke, take a long, dramatic drag from your cigarette and say, “What the hell have I just made?” Emphasizing the word “hell” expels just the right amount of smoke for a wonderfully theatrical effect.
  4. Refrigerate for a few hours so that the flavor agents have enough time to properly collude.
  5. To serve, place each iceberg wedge in a deep bowl and ladle dressing over them until only their tips are left exposed, which will be fun for your guests because they will have absolutely no idea how much crap they’ll have to wade through to get to the bottom of everything.
  6. If anyone questions what you’ve just served them, tell them it’s Creamy French Dressing– they probably won’t know the difference. If you’ve still got that cigarette, blow smoke in the face of the person or persons probing you for an added dash of drama. Don’t ash.
  7. Place remaining dressing in a smaller bowl and leave out for several days, preferably near your stove. Stir occasionally. Leftovers may then be used to poison enemies.
  8. Deny everything.
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About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
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18 Responses to Iceberg with Russian Dressing

  1. Giedra says:

    As I remember it, part of my job in the cafeteria at Rieber Hall was to make exactly that dressing, only I made it in 5-gallon buckets. I relate to your feelings all too well–you are most certainly not alone. Kudos to you for your various forms of progress!! I have been trying to find the time to walk a marathon over the course of a week (or 3) to follow your example; if you haven’t done it lately, join me and let’s do it together!

    • 5 GALLONS. You have just put me to shame. Currently missing my occasional forays into Rieber Hall to visit my favorite dinner ladies.

      As for walk marathons, I literally just got back from a 6.7 mile morning walk so I’m 1/4 of the way there already.

      xom

  2. Gayle says:

    LingOL. Good grief…I think that is the funniest post yet….especially the recipe’s Preparations. You described the smoking bits so perfectly I pictured ever nuance. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing writing talents and your neurotic tendancies.

    • Gayle,

      I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that people read my recipe instructions because they are the most fun part of writing these posts.

      And I’m so glad at least someone out there appreciates my neuroses.

  3. Anne Taylor says:

    Michael,

    Why has Russian dressing gotten such a bad name? What could be better on a wedge of Iceberg or leaves of Romaine? Ok, Blue Cheese crumbled in a suitably mayo-ed base.
    Recipe for Russian missing finely chopped pickles, which add a soupçon of salty, sweet, vinegary goodness. Add those and you’ve salad dressing, babe.

    Impressed at your progress in all forms. Hard not to check today, Friday, 13th.

    All Best.

    • Hello there.

      I considered using finely chopped pickles, but what I believed to be the original recipe did not include them. I’m certain they would only make the dressing better.

      Doing my best not to check the news constantly today, but am failing. (See: Sean Hannity).

  4. carole says:

    Michael,

    Instead of iceberg lettuce, how about drowning a large head of orange idiot? That would take away from the revolving door of politics and that would be good for all of our souls!

  5. MaggieToo says:

    Please take some comfort from knowing you took a slightly healthier route to drowning out the news cacophony than I did.

    In an attempt to conjure some comfort from happier/nostalgic times, I went to the market and bought a two-pound bag of frozen fish sticks, baked them off, drenched them in ketchup, and ate almost the entire bag in one sitting.

    Yes, it was almost like being at home with Mom. But it felt really, really bad the next morning. And the news looked no better at all.

    • Now I want frozen fish sticks, MaggieToo.

      My erstwhile go to comfort binging was a bag of Ore-Id frozen crinkle cut fries baked (impatiently under done), piled into a large bowl, drowned in ketchup and mayo, and consumed while watching either MGM musicals or Isabelle Huppert films, for some reason.

  6. Ross says:

    Words of wisdom: “Not polishing off an entire bottle of wine in an evening is also a struggle. But it’s a healthier substitution for bourbon…”

    My hero.

  7. Jan Morrison says:

    It is 7:26 AM in North West River, Labrador and the snow is falling. I got up before my fella for a change and made a pot of coffee. I’m on the smaller couch with my burnt orange mohair keeping me cozy and I could be gazing out over the frozen bay to where I know the Mealy Mountains are. But I’m not. Instead I’ve been eating my usual bowl of rage and fury. No Colbert on Sundays, but still so much relentless awfulness. I couldn’t stand it but then I thought ” I’ll wander over and see what that wry fella Michael is up to.” Oddly, the confluence of pain-mind makes me feel happier, and your recipe notes reminded me of this mother of a friend I knew when I was 14 in the 60s. I could see her – Paula Scott standing there viciously smoking and hating her life as a divorced mother of five for chrissake, with her battered stationwagon and real estate license. Thank you.

    • Gayle says:

      This is some wonderful writing itself.

      • Jan,

        I just looked up the Mealy Mountains and am very glad I did. I am now imagining my own mother– divorced and miserable, but with a shiny new Country Squire station wagon to replace the one that was totaled– with her cigarette poised over her shoulder, wondering what the hell she was going to make the kids for dinner. And Gayle is right– your comment is wonderfully written. I love that my readers really know how to string sentences together.

  8. Jenny says:

    I think you just perfectly described all of my Grandmothers during the Reagan years. I’ll just have a bite- along with a bottle of my antidepressants, thank you.

  9. Jan Morrison says:

    Michael – I can’t even watch Colbert anymore. The laughter at the hideousness that is happening is too much. I’m deeply disturbed at what is going on in our countries. Yes, I know we have Mr. Suave as our leader but other than politely batting down your marmalade perp he still lets the truly bad guys have their way. My fella and I are leaving Labrador in a few weeks and make our way back to Nova Scotia for good. I will miss the peace but not the lack of diversions to fend off end days’ despair.
    I’m wondering how you are? I hope you and your pals are planning some sort of crazy fun. Maybe next trip you can come to Nova Scotia and I’ll take you all whale watching.

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