Food by VICE

To Remoulade, with Love and Disgust

You were once so exquisite, back when you came from France. That was long ago, before somebody decided to fill you with chopped cabbage.

by Lars Bjerregaard; translated by Lars Hinnerskov Eriksen
Jul 25 2017, 1:00pm

Photo by Flickr user cyclonebill.

This poem appeared previously on MUNCHIES Denmark.


You are disgusting. Or so they say.
When they talk about you, they say you are indefinable.
You are a bastard, conceived in a bucket on the floor of a hot dog stand.
You were once so exquisite, back when you came from France. That was long ago, before somebody decided to fill you with chopped cabbage.
You are a cold, yellow sauce.

Your color is artificial, they say. You got that color to scare people away, like a plague-ridden ship.
But you have traveled the world, so you don't care. From the noblest families in France to the classic restaurants of New Orleans.
You have been mixed with local spices, and shaped by palates and cravings from all over the world.

People forget that you were possibly the forefather of béarnaise. And nobody hates béarnaise, right?
What people tend to forget is that Escoffier created you from mayonnaise, which everybody loves. He created you from pickles, chervil, tarragon, capers, parsley, and anchovy oil.
How did you turn into such a misfit?
How did you turn into such a substandard product in a yellow plastic tube?

Now you are made from water, rapeseed oil, white cabbage, sugar, vinegar, cauliflower, corn starch, pasteurized egg yolk, pickled cucumber, thickening agents known as E145 and E410, malic acid E296, and preservatives E202 and E211.
When I squeeze you out of the container, you look like the beginnings of a blackhead.
When I smell you, the first thing to hit my nostrils is the whiff of plastic. Then a smell that reminds me of the medicine I clamped my lips together to avoid when I was a child. Then the stench of acrid cabbage hits me.
When I was younger, I would smear you on my lips and try to kiss the neighbor's daughter.

Foreigners simply can't fathom why you exist.
They find you incredibly repulsive.
And when they finally get a taste of you, smeared on top of a beast of a hotdog with all the trimmings, incredibly delicious.
They say you are not pickles. They say you are not sauce remoulade. They say you are not special sauce. Which is true. You aren't.
Because you are "everything." If you are not there, it's a hotdog with nothing.

I wouldn't dream of eating fries without you.
I wouldn't dream of eating fishcakes without you.
I wouldn't dream of eating fried fish without you.
I rarely dine at hotdog stands, but that's not because of you.
I like if when you hang in a tube from a piece of string so I can reach out for you, grab you, pull you down and squeeze you.
I like it when some of you lands on my fingers and I have to lick you off.
I like that you have become trash.

If you worked at a bar, you would have fading tattoos, permanent eye shadow and a hoarse voice, and I would still flirt with you.
If you worked at a bar, you would hate me, because you know I would eventually ditch you for my friends and leave you hanging behind the bar in your tanktop in the early hours of the morning.

You will never get too old.
I like it when I haven't pushed you down properly before I squeeze you out of the tube, and you explode all over my plate.
I smear you on boiled eggs.
I like that the discussion about French fries evolves around their shape, whether they should be crinkle cut. It's never about you.
I like that everybody eats you, and most people don't even try to make an excuse.
It's as if your upbringing as a bastard child has split you into atoms.
Everybody talks about mayonnaise, tartar sauce, and béarnaise. Nobody talks about you, but they all eat you.

They say they hate you.
Dear remoulade, you are disgusting.
But I want you.