This simple salad dressing recipe comes from No Regrets, a cookbook compiled by the Junior League of Portland (Oregon) in 1974. The recipe itself doesn’t particularly spark joy in me – I find it hard to get excited about salad dressing in general – but the title makes me smile. No, it’s not a typo. It’s an inside joke among us folks in the Pacific Northwest. Outside of our rainy little slice of heaven most folks, even out West, can’t be bothered to learn to pronounce Oregon properly. I’ve heard lots of embarrassing variants, but the most common error is to say something like “O-re-GONE” – rhymes with polygon.
Hal Evenson had the same problem with his Air Force buddies in the 1960s, none of whom apparently paid attention in school. Upon graduating from the University of Oregon in 1968 he fashioned a custom bumper sticker for his car, cutting and pasting letters to coin the semi-phonetic spelling “Orygun”. The joke caught on and he made a few thousand dollars selling bumper stickers and shirts before realizing that misspelled place names couldn’t be trademarked. And even though he couldn’t make his living off it, Mr. Evenson’s “Orygun” tradition lives on. The University of Oregon student store still sells “Orygun” shirts and bumper stickers, and there are several notable events that have stolen the title as well.
By 1974 the Portland Junior League was apparently in on the joke as well. I’m not sure what’s so quintessentially Oregonian about this recipe, but it’s a quick and easy alternative to the bottled stuff and a little bit less sweet and weird. I’ve kept the ingredient list pretty close to the original, but included recommendations for local Pacific Northwest products where available. Those of you outside of the PNW will have to suffer with inferior products, but such is life.
- Mix dry ingredients well. Whisk in Worcestershire, mustard, ketchup, and vinegar until well combined. Drizzle in oil a little bit at a time, whisking constantly, to form a suspension. Transfer to a bottle and shake well before serving.