Posted by: debrakolkka | March 28, 2011

Can I have ranch dressing with that?

the salad at Paris Boheme

Here in Italy, the answer to that question is invariably going to be – No.

I was at Paris Boheme in Puccini’s piazza, one of my favourite restaurants in Lucca, when I heard a woman in a group of Americans ask this of the delightful Luis. (Click here to read about the lovely Luis.)  His answer, which was given dramatically with a flourish of arm waving, was. “No ranch dressing signora, you are in Italia, you will have Italian dressing on your insalata, it will be so much better.”

The visitors then asked for a pizza. Again, Luis had to say no, for Paris Boheme is not a pizza restaurant. The Americans said “But all Italian restaurants sell pizza.”  Luis replied “Not in Italia.”

The point here is, when visitors come to Italy, or any other foreign country they should not expect it to be just like home or they will be in for serious disappointment. It may not be better or worse, just different. Embrace the differences and try something new. That is part of the fun of coming to another country.

The Americans ordered lasagna, and  insalata with olive oil and vinegar and announced that it was delicious.

By the way, I am Australian, what is ranch dressing?

Paris Boheme Lucca

Paris Boheme –


  1. Looks delish!

  2. Ranch dressing is mayo, sour cream or yoghurt, green onions, garlic, lemon juice & seasoning. It’s ok but I agree – when in Italy – eat the Italian food.

    • It sounds delicious, thanks for the recipe.

  3. that is so Luis isn’t it ?? please say hello to them for me Deb and a big hug from me. I was only talking about them the other night and having a laugh about the antics of our one and only Luis….

    • He was also asking about you. You should send him an email. He is so much fun. I don’t think anyone is offended when tells them they can’t have something, he does it in such a funny way.

  4. What a yummy salad which would be perfect with a dollop of thousand island sauce 😛

    • What a way to ruin a perfectly good salad.

  5. I waited tables in an Italian restaurant in London, I remember an elderly American couple coming in once, ordering the spaghetti bolognese and being so overwhelmed by the sauce that they ordered a portion to take back to their hotel room.. they said they were flying home that day and wanted to take something back for their supper….

    • You have to love the food in Italy. The food in America is pretty good too. Some of the best meals I have ever eaten have been in New York.

  6. It is possible to buy (in the US) dry packets of spices to which milk or buttermilk and mayo are added to make Ranch. Then you can add bleu cheese and make the dressing that goes with Buffalo wings. My brit friends really like the dressing. It is sometimes served with just celery sticks.

    • I quite like blue cheese dressing. I tried it when I was in Newport, RI, the first time.

  7. Haha that is a cute story! I don’t mind ranch dressing, a tangy creamy dressing but I wouldn’t ask for it while in Italy-or Australia come to think of it. We don’t get it much so I’m not surprised you don’t know what it is.

    • I’ve heard of it, but I had no idea what was in it.

  8. I kept going back and looking at the picture of the salad and thinking how beautiful and seductive it looked – then I followed the lead and discovered it’s name. Does it come with chips! I would have to ask now just to get the full Luis experience.

    • Strange you should say that because Luis calls it erotic salad.

  9. Loved this blog and I was reading in between the lines. I find it more hilarious to read the comments………did they not pick up the subtleties of the post?? No thousand island dressing for me!

    • When you come we will go to Paris Boheme. Luis and David are delightful, and the food is good too.

  10. I rushed to read this when I saw the title-this is so funny as the absence of Ranch is my 10yr old’s only complaint in Italy-for those who don’t know Ranch is what we slather on salads and other raw veggies so our kids will eat them!!! Ha

    • You will have to bring some with you next time you come. We can’t have the kids not eating their salad.

  11. Brilliant! I love this!!!!!! As for “some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten were in New York”…(pssssst. New York isn’t really America. It’s better in my opinion, but don’t tell anyone!)

    • I really love New York!! I have been to Boston, Newport, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Aspen, all of which were great. I would love to see more of USA.

  12. Don’t forget Toronto….your post is amusing. How many times have you heard tourists ask for butter?? Your site is a delight!

    • I haven’t heard anyone asking for butter yet. You can buy it in supermarkets and delis, but it is not served with bread in a restaurant. I hadn’t really thought about it until you mentioned it. Thanks for the nice comments.

  13. I can just imagine Luis saying that – and the Americans asking! It’s strange how ‘cuisine’ shifts when it moves into a new country – Chinese food in Australia is totally different to traditional Chinese food, and for my money, nowhere near as tasty!

    • I would never consider asking for vegemite outside Australia. I agree with you about the Chinese food outisde China – and Indian food in India – I could go on.

  14. I remember being in Positano when an older American gentleman was very frustrated that he could not make the deli clerk understand he wanted a hamburger. He said his wife made him come on the trip-I bet she wished she hadn’t been so forceful in her request! Do as the locals do for the best experience!
    Come to Seattle! Mountains, lakes and the Puget sound where ever you look. Fabulous seafood <) Is there any true American food? There is some international influence in almost everything here. In Seattle Mediterrean and
    Asian is seen in abundance.

    • I”d love to go to Seattle!! What is Australian food??? We have lots of international influence in our cooking. I think it is great.

  15. Imagine drowning all those beautiful flavours with a creamy dressing… maaadonna!

    • I know, the salad is just lovely as it is.

  16. Sooooooo funny! What’s that movie with Russell Crowe, based in Italy, some French woman does the exact same thing, and is met with a super snappy answer that delights me greatly. Nicely put Id say! Why is it always the Americans that make themselves heard…. All the way from Italy too. Shame! Love your posts, I’m seeing all the fantastic places to visit when I get on over to your neck of the woods Deb.

    • It is all here waiting for you. The American lady who asked for the ranch dressing was lovely and took Luis’s comments very well.

  17. Visited Paris Boheme last week. I cant even remember what I had because I was so wrapped up in Luis! haha…he was fantastic. When he realized that we couldnt understand a lot on the menu he basically did an eyeroll and pulled up a chair! All in good humour of course! Debra, I did mention that I had read about the restaurant on your blog at which point he sang your praises :). It was a wonderful way to end the evening that began earlier at the Puccini opera. (can I post a pic on here of me and Luis?) Oh…..he gave us a taste of his homemade limoncello. I could have had about 10 more it was SO good! I would love to know how he makes it.

    • I would love you to put a photo up. We had dinner at Paris Boheme last night. It was great to see the boys.

  18. […] One of the things I love most about Italy is the delicious food. I will miss my cappuccino and apple sfoglia every morning, just a short walk across the bridge at Il Monaco, saltimbocca at Del Sonno and everything at Paris Boheme in Lucca. […]

  19. […] here and here to see more on Paris […]

  20. […] For the full story click here. […]

  21. This reminds me of eating at a small restaurant in Paris and a table of Americans (I am American as well) asked very loudly for “BARBECUE SAUCE” then were surprised when the FRENCH restaurant said they did not have it nor does any of their food require BBQ sauce. I almost died. Thanks for sharing =)

    • Good answer! If I cook something delicious I wouldn’t want someone to spoil it with crummy sauce.

      • exactly!

  22. Ranch dressing is similar to thousand island dressing only ranch is white and made from buttermilk . In the US we not me but we put it on almost everything. I’m surprised they didn’t want to pour it on the polenta!

    • I’m sure ranch dressing is very good, but when in Rome…..

  23. 😀 … Americans, I tell yah. They’re the only ones who call locals …. foreigners. bwahahahahah

    • I have liked Americans I have met, especially in America. I have always found them to be friendly, polite and helpful. These people were happy to be guided by the lovely Luis.

  24. Ranch dressing is unknown in Europe and Italians find it nauseating ! A thick and pure white creamy emulsion on a delicious fresh Italian green salad, antipasto-salad or to dip pizza in in Italy is…..REPULSIVE ! In fact, all bottle dressings, with the exception of possibly an oil and vinegar vinaigrette in big cities is unheard of and even taboo ! Italians like good olive oil and freah lemon juice (occasionally red wine vinegar),made fresh and poured only lightly on their greens at the table, along with olive oil for dipping of bread,instead of butter. Italian tourists in the U.S. actually find these dressings to be somewhat of a joke and in very poor culinary taste ,i.e. Ranch, French,Thousand Island, Creamy-Italian, Russian etc. Also, do not forget that “Ranch” dressing is an American invention and not really found or used abroad at all. Therefore, when in Rome……..

    • I am not a fan of bottled dressings. Some olive oil and balsamic is fine by me.

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