What Do You Think Gravy Is?
Your Sunday roast gravy and my Thanksgiving gravy are distant cousins, at best
Commenting on my landmark treatise on Chicken Fried Steak, FoodTribe czarina Rachael Hogg noted that "You Americans have a very strange concept of gravy..." which I am still giggling about. Yep, Rachael, we sure do. You nailed it, kid. Then again, what you think is 'pudding' is basically a coffee cake.
To visually illustrate my feelings about the British concept of gravy, the very lifeblood of most good meals, I present the most bleak picture I could find of some mushed potatoes along with some slightly congealing representative gravies and a truly dispiriting hotel pan of noodles:
What's with the brick?
I kid...anyway. Another fine reason why trousers meant for Americans are cut more fully than those intended for Europeans is our liberal use of thickening agents. When you on the Continent set upon a gravy, typically roast drippings are simmered with some other fluid, like wine or a vegetable stock, then right before serving there may or may not be an application of a thin broth of water with starch. The result is, let's just say, not very viscous.
We call this 'bulletproof coffee'
These were the gravies of my youth. My mom, having grown up in an Irish-American household, made what I always called 'see-through' gravy, what I now call 'au jus'. It ran everywhere and didn't help me eat my gatdam boiled potatoes at all. I assume that's more what you British are used to on a Sunday. Now us 'Murricans, on the other hand, leave out the wine and the stock and just whip in all that starch to make a thick, clingy gravy blanket.
That is chicken gravy, suh!
Things get even more diverse when there aren't meat drippings. Hell, Europeans make 'gravy' from vegetables, of all things. Some sort of vegetable is sweated and mixed with stock or wine.
Run this through the 'Shop again and change the fill from 'transparent' to 'opaque'
Whereas, when us colonists lack drippings from a roast, we just fry up some other type of meat, and hit the resulting grease with a cup of flour, a cup of heavy cream, and if it isn't fat enough, maybe some lard or some other fat. Below is a picture that makes me very happy. Southern biscuits are served alongside what looks like, from upper left, sausage gravy, ham gravy, and bacon gravy. We all can see that British Sunday Roast gravy is to 'Murrican cream gravy as Keira Knightley is to 'Lizzo. (and me too, girl. Just saying)
Look up 'love' in the dictionary, and this picture can be found alongside the entry
What would this be called in Europe? Bisque, possibly.
Also known as Sawmill gravy in Appalachia, Salt Pork gravy in New England, and in the really repressed portions of the Midwest, Hamburger gravy, Cream gravy is the American additive to dishes that transforms them from simple to truly comforting. Of course, we all know that in terms of food, 'comfort' is an euphemism for 'desperately awful for you'.