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Why do Italians in New Jersey call sauce sauce?

Here is an important public service announcement to remember this Thanksgiving.

This week you have been busy preparing for your Thanksgiving feast. Your basket was probably filled with cranberry sauce, stuffing toppings, vegetables, a turkey, and gravy.

The only acceptable use of the word gravy is to describe what goes on your turkey. But, for some reason, New Jersey Italians like to call the sauce a sauce. How did it become a thing?

Some people believe that when gravy is alone it can be called gravy, but when meat is added it becomes gravy. An article from the Matador Network contributes to the assimilation of immigrants – they saw people putting real gravy on the turkey and started calling the gravy gravy because it also went on the meat. This explanation makes a lot of sense.

But, as an Italian speaker, I know there’s literally no such thing as sauce in Italy. In fact, the sauce in Italian is “salsa”. But, you wouldn’t order fries and gravy at a Mexican restaurant, nor would you put salsa on your pasta. I think the same applies to the sauce. The sauce is for the meat and the sauce for the pasta.

Ultimately, of course, it doesn’t matter what word you use for sauce. As long as you enjoy it with your healthy friends and family, that’s all that matters.

Have a happy Thanksgiving filled with lots of delicious food – including the gravy you put on your turkey and the word you use for gravy.

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