An Unexpected Southern Cobb Salad
Alabama white sauce. I was first introduced to this sauce at my fiancé Michael’s home (or as I affectionately call him, B.) His mother, Ginny, has deep Alabama roots. Her sweet, Southern accent can brighten even the dullest of conversations. Ginny reflects THE quintessential Southern woman: sweet, charming and hospitable.
One of the first dinners at the Wilsons’ home consisted of a lovely spread of barbecued chicken, baked potatoes and a slew of sides. Bright Fiesta plates were strewn about the table. Sunny pitchers of iced tea and lemonade were at both sides of the table, acting as two twin pillars for our fodder. The chicken was a beautiful coral color, streaked only by the black marks of the grill. Potatoes steaming like locomotives began the procession for the rest of the sides. In the midst of the colorful parade of fare, I almost missed it. Peeking out from behind the iced tea pitcher was a little, clear plastic container. White, thick sauce peered through the clear container along with a myriad of cracked black pepper flecks. My curiosity began to stir.
After saying the blessing, we all dug into the food and conversation. Moments later, B swiped the container of mystery and shook it vigorously. With reckless abandon, he decanted the fair, thick sauce over everything on his plate. The perky blue Fiesta plate had pools of snowy paste flowing ever which way. He passed the sauce along to me. Not wanting to look like a newbie, I poured a little ravine of sauce, innocently dividing my chicken and potatoes, a gorge that could be easily hidden in case the enigmatic substance wasn’t pleasant to my palate. I eased a piece of chicken into the sauce, dipping its “toes” in first. The sauce was bright, acidic and sweet. Black pepper added an earthy quality to this seemingly simple condiment. It was wonderful. The consistency reminded me of dressing and the taste did as well. I casually asked if anyone had ever tried this as a salad dressing. Conversation halted. Forks dropped. And I believe there was a cricket somewhere in the corner scratching away. It was as if I had asked if I could please take my pants off at the dinner table. Stunned faces looked back at me, and B sweetly stated that it was a barbecue sauce. Utensils began to fly once more and dinner was over. I could not help but think about this sauce being a dressing.
So here it is, slathered onto green leaves, hoping not to offend any Alabamians. And if your argument is that it goes on meat and meat alone, I did add bacon to the salad.