When I was growing up, “French” was always my favorite salad dressing. Needless to say I was a bit dismayed to discover, upon moving to Paris in 1995, that there’s no similarity between the American version of “French Dressing” and the vinaigrette that is actually served. The French tend to use just oil and vinegar, as well as some herbs, salt, pepper and perhaps mustard. But never tomato paste nor cream, so it’s neither reddish nor the creamy orange shade you see in the bottle in this photo.
There are probably two or three different salad dressing flavors found in the average French supermarket, maybe a few more exotic ones in the gourmet markets. But when you’re in a french restaurant, don’t expect your server to run down the list of available dressings for your salad. You get the dressing the chef puts on it (you can, if you ask nicely, ask for it without the dressing or served on the side).
If you find you can’t live without your French, Creamy Ranch, or Thousand Island dressing, you can get it in the American section of the Grande Epicerie (along with a few other colorful American foods the French find either fascinating or repulsive). I’m sure the “Naturally helps better absorb vitamins A & E” tagline on the bottle will have them scratching their heads (and wondering why it’s not sold in the pharmacy as a health supplement).