I Can’t Pretend Anymore: Minions Are The Absolute Worst

I Can’t Pretend Anymore: Minions Are The Absolute Worst

Minions. Seven letters once functioned as a broad-spectrum term to describe all the world’s sycophants—or, albeit less notoriously, mini onions—has now become synonymous with those abominable yellow imbeciles from Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2. By popular demand, capitalist greed, or generous donation from the National Association for the Advancement of the Color Yellow, an entire feature film devoted to the origin story of these dreadful Minions is coming to theaters July 10th. As someone who normally roots for the underdog, it isn’t without regret that I confess after trying to give them a chance and pretending to tolerate them for entirely too long, I’m ready to admit that Minions are without exception the most grating, insipid characters ever brought to life in a kid’s movie.

Before I continue, it’s worth mentioning that Despicable Me is not a Pixar movie. Perhaps you, like me, assumed all movies using 3D computer animation were either Pixar or Disney, but that is not the case. (Not yet.) It’s entirely possibly that the production company is responsible for the Minions’ lack of appeal: they haven’t been blessed with the magic of the mouse or the jumping lamp. Many of the comparisons I’m going to draw between the Minions and other similar kids’ movie cronies will reference Disney and Pixar films, though it is worth mentioning this is not truly and apples to apples comparison.

Let me begin with the appearance of Minions.

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No One Is Looking At Your Fireworks Photos

No One Is Looking At Your Fireworks Photos

Every year in July, Americans wearing their washed-out flag shirts from 2000 that they’ve kept because they only wear them once per year (unless they recently painted their living room) gather together on an open field with picnic blankets and folding chairs to partake in the Sisyphean task of capturing the best moments of a fireworks show on camera. In a poll conducted by the United States Wasting Time Foundation (USWTF), when presented with a list of most patriotic pastimes, 73% of respondents chose “trying to take good pictures at a fireworks show on the 4th of July” over “listening to Bob Dylan,” “attending a baseball game and actually staying until the ninth inning,” and “proudly singing the chorus to ‘American Pie,’ but mumbling through every other verse.”

Human beings have a long history of being interested in capturing these temporal bursts of color in a format they can keep forever, but ironically never look at these photos after July 5th of the year the photo was taken. So dire was this need to immortalize fireworks on our memory cards and overcrowded photo libraries on our phones that camera manufacturers had to have an important meeting.

Leading Camera Manufacturer: The people want to be able to take pictures of fireworks.

More Expensive Leading Camera Manufacturer: But a dark sky combined with a colorful explosive that’s at it’s most photogenic for about two seconds? For the amateur photographer, it’s impossible to get a good shot!

Leading Camera Manufacturer: You’re right…

Shady Camera Manufacturer Conglomerate That Also Sells Appliances and Frozen Foods: Well, why don’t we try to develop a fireworks setting to match the snow and pet settings we rolled out…

More Expensive Leading Camera Manufacturer: That’s a great idea!

Shady Camera Manufacturer Conglomerate That Also Sells Appliances and Frozen Foods: Only let’s make sure it doesn’t work so all the fireworks just look like the outtakes from an acid trip at an EDM festival.

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Why Going To The Dentist As An Adult Freaks Everyone Out

Why Going To The Dentist As An Adult Freaks Everyone Out

According to those 1-800-DENTIST commercials and a Gallup poll that shows one third of American adults didn’t go to the dentist in 2013, a lot of people are throwing serious shade at the oral care industry. As someone who’s survived braces and who has but one cavity staining an otherwise untarnished dental record, I’ve actually always enjoyed going to the dentist. Maybe it’s because the dentist is one of the few medical specialities that doesn’t insist you step on the scale prior to each visit.

A tooth cleaning is the mouth equivalent of getting your hair washed at the salon without being expected to leave a tip. Plus you get all that free dental loot, like a soft bristle toothbrush, new floss, or the elusive tongue scraper, that all sit ignored on a shelf in your bathroom like the arrowhead exhibit no one visits at the museum. What other medical appointment sends you away with a goody bag that doesn’t include an expensive prescription or some disappointing test results? When it comes to health upkeep, the dentist is about as good as it gets, but for as much as I enjoy getting my teeth scraped with that little hook tool, I’ve noticed that going to the dentist as an adult is a lot more uncomfortable than it is when you’re a kid.

Earning respect at the dentist as a kid is pretty easy if your mom nags you enough to brush your teeth twice a day. As long as you don’t bite the dental hygienist (guilty) or expose how much sugar your parent(s) actually feed you, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll be leaving with a sticker and one of those sticky hands from the treasure chest. During every trip to the dentist in my youth, I remember seeing one kid, who you’d describe as “being a handful” in polite adult terms and “being a miserable little twerp who should probably be in a time-out until he’s 45” in all other terms, in the waiting room who would refuse to go in when he was called because he hadn’t finish playing Pacman in the waiting room. Back in the exam area, you could always find an overdressed little girl en route to a family photo appointment at Sears who would start wailing the second the dentist lowered her chair. Most memorably, there was always one kid getting seven cavities filled with a vigil of dental office employees around him, soothing him as he cries and practicing the disapproving looks they’ll give his mother later. With all those grimy dental delinquents around, it was easy to establish a good reputation.

Continue reading “Why Going To The Dentist As An Adult Freaks Everyone Out”

How To Tell If The Dog In A Movie Is Going To Die

How To Tell If The Dog In A Movie Is Going To Die

There are a lot of things that can ruin a movie, like a bad storyline, second-rate special effects, an unbelievable romance, or Tara Reid, but nothing wrecks a movie quite like an animal getting killed. Of course it’s gut-wrenching when any animal (except a shark or a mean dinosaur) dies in a movie – I’m thinking of Bambi’s mother and Mufasa and getting a bit misty – but when a dog dies in particular, you want to rewind your entire life and decide to take a nap instead of watching the movie in question. You want to brainwash yourself and return to that sunshiney place of ignorance where that fictional dog lived, safely contained in its 90 minute Blu-ray adventure.

If you’re nodding your head right now, chances are you’re like me: You can easily keep a dry eye through any number of human deaths in a movie, but you become hysterical at the mere thought anyone might touch a hair on the sweet Beagle’s kissable head. The outcome of the movie Titanic or Game of Thrones weighs heavy on your heart, but you’ll survive. Yeah, it’s unfortunate many of the characters didn’t make it, but they’re human beings and we can totally get more. People are a dime a dozen, but where else can we find a talking Golden Retriever or an Alaskan Malamute that rescues skiers from an avalanche other than in movies that by all rights should have a happy ending?

There is rarely legitimate reason for the dog in a movie to die. Whenever a dog dies in a movie, I imagine the screenwriter sitting at their writing desk, adjusting one of those adjustable Pixar office lamps thinking, “What’s the most messed up thing I could do? Hm, I could give the guy who just fell in love terminal cancer at a time in his life when he should be at his prime… No. Too Nicholas Sparks. I know! I’ll have the spunky little girl kidnapped and strapped to a bomb! Too predictable… Wait a second. I’ve got it. I’ll have someone shoot the family’s Labrador Retriever in a scene that doesn’t further the plot in any conceivable way.”

Maybe you’re thinking about a movie like Cujo, where the dog in question is kind of crazy. Or perhaps you’re thinking of Old Yeller or that scene in Of Mice and Men. These dog deaths are still heartbreaking, but those aren’t the kind of unexpected losses that makes you want to bawl for the rest of your life and give up movies forever, because no film has enough entertainment value to compensate for the possibility of seeing a loveable dog die. Over the years, I’ve become better at identifying when a movie may lead to an unexpected dog death. If you want to absolutely certain, you can check out Does The Dog Die, recently featured on Long Awkward Pause, it’s a database that allows you to search movies to see if any dogs are killed or injured. But in case you happen upon a movie and the battery on your phone is dead, look out for these movie dog death warning signs.

There’s An Adolescent Who’s a Loner

It’s often a boy with shaggy brown hair and a twinkle in his eye that screams, “I summon you plot to show me how unfair the world really is!” If the movie you’re watching features a kid who’s being bullied or doesn’t fit in at school and through some unlikely series of events (like a wily stray outsmarting an overweight dogcatcher) the kid becomes a dog owner, just assume the dog is going to die by the end of the movie. This is especially true if the little munchkin is afraid of the dog or doesn’t want to take care of the dog.

The Mom Or Dad Didn’t Like The Dog, But Now The Dog Has Become A Member of the Family

If the mom or dad has been particularly bitchy to the dog, but then based on the dog’s performance through some traumatic event has decided to embrace the pet as a member of the family, letting him or her sleep on the bed and eat “people food,” the dog is almost definitely going to die. In the movie business, this is what they call the Heartwrenching Acceptance Switcheroo. The Heartwrenching Acceptance Switcheroo tricks viewers into thinking the dog is invincible, because surely if the skeptical head of the household can accept the animal, it can survive anything for movie purposes! It’s come so far! You are wrong. No dog is safe.

The Movie Has Been Otherwise Upbeat And There’s No Reason The Dog Should Die

So everything’s been going great in the movie. The dog has settled into its home, and it probably has some adorable routine with the kids where it carries their backpacks to the car or changes the baby’s diapers or something. At some point in the movie, the dog probably woofed in response to a question and everyone viewer laughed in unison because it’s almost like that darn dog understands English! Well, I hate to tell you this, but don’t get too attached this pooch, because he or she probably isn’t going to live. I know you’re naïve and you think “this isn’t that kind of movie” or “there’s no way they’d kill the dog,” but believe me: They will kill the dog, and you will wish you forget all the backpack carrying and the intelligible yapping.

The Dog Has Its Own Music Score

Sometimes movies with dogs will create a music score that plays every time the dog is on screen. Whether Fido’s tearing through the garden or going for a walk, there will be this brassy triumphant music that slows to a spritely woodwind lull, heavily accented by the sound of a piccolo. If the dog has its own song in a movie, know that at some point – probably when you least expect it – this song will be slowed down as the prematurely dog dies out of nowhere. Beware dog-specific music tracks.

The Dog Becomes A Hero

If a movie dog saves anyone’s life, please grab the tissues, because that dog probably isn’t going to survive in the end. This is especially true if the dog becomes a hero in the neighborhood, beloved by all the townspeople for its heroic efforts. Any movie dog that survives against all odds — like coming back from a war or being the lone survivor of an earthquake — will probably stay alive in the movie just long enough for you get attached before something horrible happens to it.

There Are Lots of Scenes That Show The Dog Alone, Especially Walking

Any dog that gets too much solo camera time in a movie isn’t going to live. As a viewer, it might seem like this is the director’s way of helping us get to know the dog on a personal level. Look! There Fido is running after a squirrel. Now he’s laying on the floor with his chin on the ground. Isn’t he sweet? Yes, he is. He’s perfect. He’s everything a movie dog should be. Unfortunately, he’s not gonna survive, because this is a subliminal isolation tactic used by only the most heartless moviemakers to make us think the animal star of the movie is going to be okay. Be wary of too many dog scenes.

There are some notable exceptions to these criteria, but don’t say you haven’t been warned the next time some freckled boy and his little sister lose their best friend to Hollywood’s heartless whims.

This blog post was inspired by the trailer for the movie Max, a film that I — as a two-time German Shepherd owner — will never be watching unless someone kidnaps me and tapes my eyeballs open in front of the TV. This isn’t intended to spoil the movie for you, but if you get through that trailer thinking Max is going to live happily ever after, I’ve taught you nothing.

Conscious Ungoogling: The Suspense and Intrigue of Not Googling Things

Conscious Ungoogling: The Suspense and Intrigue of Not Googling Things

I’ve mentioned before that Google is my most trusted, objective, nonjudgmental life coach/therapist/doctor/tax advisor. That might seem a little strange, but I grew up with Google. It’s been a faithful friend during my most inquisitive years, and it’s been a dependable confidante even when I’ve asked questions like, “Why is my period blood so dark?” “What does a ruptured appendix feel like?” and “What’s the name of that hot writer guy from Sex and the City who looks like that guy from Early Edition but isn’t him?” But growing up with the Internet and living in the age of social media robs us of our chill. As people trying to live in this rapidly diversifying technological landscape, we still get a thrill out of curiosity now and then. At some point or another, you – like me – have probably indulged in the suspense and intrigue of not Googling something.

Do you remember when you actually had to use books to find information? Back in the day, if you wanted to learn how to get rid of a blackhead, you had to go through the trouble of going to the library (presumably with all your blackheads), looking through the card catalog for a book on blackhead removal, enduring the librarian looking at you nose like, “Ew, yeah, you really need this book,” while you check it out, and then reading a book about removing blackheads that may not have good images or answer any questions you have. I didn’t have to do that very much of my life, but I imagine it was hell. I suspect there were fewer murders and more undiagnosed STDs in those days.


In the world BG — Before Google — you had to talk to other human beings to learn about things that might be uncomfortably revelatory. Or use your Microsoft Encarta CD-ROM. I don’t want my friends to know how many synonyms I need on a daily basis. I don’t want to double-check a Kanye lyric through a coworker. I definitely don’t want to ask my mom about how boob contouring works. Google is a lifesaver, because even though we can be reasonably sure the government has our most problematic searches on file, at least those are strangers we don’t have to see on a daily basis. I’d rather some government employee be aware I Google murderers and plane crashes and celebrity sex tapes (just out of curiosity!) than say, my boss or my barista.

But sometimes Google can suck the mystery out of life, because all the info you could ever want is within reach as long as you string together the right search terms. I mean, Google can’t teach you to how not to be an jerk or expose the truth about unsolved crimes (Google knows I’ve tried looking for new leads on JonBenet Ramsey more than I care to admit), but it can totally find the Facebook profile of this awesome new person you just started dating. Google can spoil a TV show you’ve been impatiently waiting to watch on Netflix with your partner. In a lot of ways, Google removes the thrill of finding things out the old fashioned way that often entails asking questions and enduring embarrassment and surprise. Now we’re all just in our basements and on our iPhones learning all kinds of stuff with reckless abandon.


I’ve started Conscious Ungoogling. It’s nothing like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, so you don’t have to hate it just yet. Conscious ungoogling is when you come across a question – anything you don’t know – and choose to not Google because A) It’s not essential for you to know it right now and B) It’s kind of exciting to revel in your ignorance and make up your own explanation. Part B is what’s really missing in our society today, if you ask me. We have access to so much information that for so many topics, you can find out if you’re right and wrong with just a few clicks. It’s great if you’re trying to win an argument, but it’s a lot less cool if you’re spoilering your own learning process. Back in the day, if you were wrong about something it could take years of wrongdoing and deaths for you to find out. Here’s lookin’ at you, homebuilders using asbestos.

The other day I was walking to the train when a weird, unprovoked thought came into my mind as these things do when you least expect them. I realized that I have no idea how newborn babies get their Social Security number and Social Security card. “Katie, that’s a really unsexy thought to have, why didn’t you ask yourself instead how birds have sex?” Well, yes, I wonder about that sometimes, too, but on this particular day it was babies and their national identification for tax purposes. I assume the hospital gives it to you — along with the kid’s birth certificate and a pamphlet on breastfeeding – as part of the new human being starter pack or something, but I have no idea if that’s true. What if you have to apply for one with the government? Are all the people who have procreated really diligent enough to know to do that? Do people have undocumented children because they didn’t know they have to do that? I DON’T KNOW!

I could Google this. I’m 100% sure the answer to this is on the Internet. There’s probably a forum out there where expectant mothers are griping right now about wanting to get their baby’s Social Security number the “natural way.” I opened Google ready to type, “How do babies get Social Security numbers?” but I stopped when my finger was hovering over the “h” key. Someday I’ll need to find this out if I have a baby or sign up to be a contestant on Wheel of Boring, Procedural Information, but right now I don’t need to know. By not Googling, I can still wonder if maybe every one who’s had a baby had to murder someone, because freeing up a Social Security number is the only way to get one for your baby.


What I’m trying to say is, sometimes it’s satisfying to abstain from Google and arrive at your own (likely incorrect) conclusions, so long as you don’t post them on Facebook like everyone else does. So the next time you can’t think of that actor’s name, you’re unsure of a lyric, or you think have a life-threatening disease, take a chance and just go with the flow! Make it up as you go along! Consciously ungoogling is surprisingly fun. Plus, you’ll be lightening the workload for the NSA.

Do NOT spoil how babies get their Social Security numbers. I’m kind of enjoying thinking about parents profiling who they’re going to kill so their baby can be a legitimate, identified citizen. What questions/topics have you left ungoogled? I want to this be an open, Google-free comment section.

Images: pinkydinkyme/Tumblr; Giphy 

My Facebook Friends Are All Lying

My Facebook Friends Are All Lying

With the advent of Twitter and Instagram, I’ll admit that Facebook and I have grown apart, but I’m not ready to let go of it completely. I have too many fond memories of how exciting it was to join Facebook my junior year of high school after Myspace had fallen from grace. Facebook was the first social media site where I stalked the popular kids and their boozy red cup pictures with captions that claimed they were drinking apple juice. In college, clicking through everyone’s dedicated Macbook webcam photo album spared me from many a boring lecture.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve started noticing that most of my Facebook friends are full of crap.

I think we’ve all come to expect a certain level of dishonesty on social media. After all, we want to convince everyone (and ourselves) that we’re living our ~best life~, and how better to do that than to slap a filter on it or embellish some of the details? There are some Facebookers, however, who I would like to formally accuse of straight up lying in 90% of the personal anecdotes they post. I suspect you have a few of these of your own in your friends lists.

As a result of these Facebook fictions, I’ve started regarding my newsfeed like a social media version of that old show Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. If you’re not familiar, Beyond Belief shows you a few stories about uncanny, often supernatural events that may or may not have actually happened in real life. After each vignette, the host comes on and waxes philosophical and invites you decide whether the story was fact or fiction. By the end of the show, you get to find out which events actually happened and which did not.

As I present the following stereotypical Facebook posts to you, I invite you to enter a world of attention-seeking and “feeling accomplished :D,” where everything is not what it seems. Are these posts fact? Or are they just Facebook fiction?

The Encourageable Emerging Adulthood Hot Mess



The Guy Who’s Trying to Convince Everyone He’s Getting Laid


The Overzealous Animal Lover


The Joint Facebook Account Parents Who Are Trying Too Hard


The Simpatico Guy Who’s Struggling In So Many Ways


The Passionate Political Activist Who May Have Exaggerated



…They’re all fiction.

Edit: This is a small sampling of offenders, and I know there are some pretty glaring omissions. If there are Facebook liars you’d like to see added to this list, leave them in a comment.

Who’s lying on your Facebook page?

Being a Caesar Salad Lover in a House Salad World

Being a Caesar Salad Lover in a House Salad World

Of all the foods to stab me in the back, I’d never have suspected Caesar salad.

Caesar salad is very dear to my heart. I credit it as being the very first salad that taught me salads can not only be a healthy side dish alternative, but also quite a lovely, filling meal on their own when you’re in the mood to fill a bowl with a portion of garden goods doused with enough dressing to make you forget you’re eating leaves. I’m not sure what it was about Caesar that captured my attention in a way that those boring house salads never did. Maybe it’s the minimalism of it. Maybe I just like the fact that romaine lettuce isn’t shredded carrots or purple cabbage. Maybe I just live for that last crouton you find at the bottom of the salad bowl, drowning in dressing and spackled with Parmesan cheese crumbs.

I’m so committed to Caesar as my go-to salad that I have the audacity to request salad substitutions at restaurants. Most of the world knows that many people like myself adore Caesar salad, so many dining establishments include a little disclaimer on their menu:



I’m accustomed to seeing this note, and I’m willing to pay my Caesar fee, because I know when that lettuce arrives all smothered in fatty dressing, it’s going to be worth it from the first forkful of lettuce to the last piece of cheese. In all my years of Caesar substituting, I’ve felt that my Caesar fees have been nominal, but that all changed the other day when I got lunch with a friend.

We were both ordering the same thing: a chicken lunch that came with one side and our choice of soup or house salad. After having rehearsed it in my head seven times before the waitress came around, I recited my order aloud:

“Could I get the Fox’s chicken? For my side I’ll get the roasted red potatoes. And what’s the soup of the day?”

“Tomato basil.”

I stifled a grimace.

“Okay, then can I just get a Caesar salad?”

The waitress raised her eyebrows at me and lifted her pen from the pad.

“That… doesn’t come with it. Do you just want Caesar dressing?”

Not to split hairs here, but dumping Caesar dressing on any old salad does not a Caesar salad make.

“No… I just want a Caesar salad as my salad? It’s okay if it costs extra.”

“So just a side Caesar salad?”


It’s with regret that I must admit this isn’t my first Caesar shaming. I’m not usually one to make a lot of special requests when eating at public places, but over the years the Caesar substitution has become every bit as mainstream as “no tomato” or “dressing on the side.” I know there are some fundamental differences between house salads and Caesar salads, but why must the garden and house salads reign supreme? There are more ingredients in them! Surely that should make them more difficult to prepare!

Regardless of our server’s rebuff, my salad arrived soon and it was delicious; if our waitress had spit in it, I was none the wiser.

Eventually, our lunch concluded, and I sat slumped over in my half of the booth, perfectly content with the world in that way that only a full stomach can provide. The cheesy garlic bread we shared was melty on the top with a flaky crust underneath. The chicken was crispy and perfect. The roasted red potatoes had a hint of rosem—

“Your Caesar salad cost 5.99,” my friend announced, scanning our bill.



Sure enough, there it was: a $5.99 charge for a salad that came with my meal. Ladies and gentleman, I’ve been eating Caesar salads for about seven years. I’ve eaten them in a variety of dining establishments all over the Chicagoland area. Never in my life have I been charged six dollars to switch a regular salad to a Caesar salad without any supplemental protein (like chicken) in it. Now, it’s not about the money. I have six dollars to spare that I’ll probably fritter away on something every bit as ridiculous as an astronomical Caesar salad substitution fee, but it’s the principle of it that was insulting, not the expense.

I looked at my friend, looked back at the bill, and said the one thing all non-confrontational people dread when they’re in the company of someone who’s dissatisfied and about to do something potentially embarrassing.

“I’m going to say something.”

And like most people who puff out their chests in scorn, I went quietly, paid the outrageous $5.99, and showed just how p.o.’d I was by leaving a 15% tip. (I hate questioning things in a complain-y manner, especially in restaurants. I could find a hair in my food, and I’d prefer to just handle it on my terms–as in, writing a blog post about it passive aggressively after the fact–rather then justifiably causing a scene at the table.)

Days after my card had been swiped and my bank account was $5.99 lighter, I still hadn’t gotten the closure I needed. Either the waitress made a mistake or the restaurant has an insane Caesar substitute policy, but this problem was even larger than that. At most restaurants, Caesar salads are more expensive than the house salad, and I needed to know why. I was relieved to find another curious Caesar supporter had asked this same question on Yahoo! Answers seven years ago, but I wasn’t prepared for the response.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 5.05.37 AM


Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 5.08.44 AM

“Most Caesar recipes call for anchovies.”

I wasn’t prepared to discover this, and before you react as some of my friends and coworkers have, NO, I did NOT know that! This is not common knowledge! I think there are probably thousands of Caesar salad lovers in the world who have no idea there are anchovies–the most notoriously yuck-inducing pizza topping–in their savory, fattening salad dressing!

Even one of my best friends of 14 years was keeping this secret from me.

Even one of my best friends of about 14 years was keeping this secret from me.

I didn’t want it to be true, but it was there in the ingredient list in the Caesar dressing in my own refrigerator, between the organic spice and xanthan gum. Anchovy flavor.


I know you’re probably wondering, “What’s the big deal? This shouldn’t change anything. You like Caesar salads, so what’s the problem?” Well, let me explain it like this. Imagine you found out that feces–albeit in small quantities–was sometimes used to make your favorite food. Would that change you feel about it? Wouldn’t you feel at least a little betrayed by your own ignorance? Could you just keep eating it like nothing had changed? The horror of consuming feces is basically how I feel about eating anchovies (really just fish in general).

Now the petty $5.99 and the whole institution of Caesar substituting doesn’t really matter that much anymore, because I’m never going to look at Caesar salads the same. I haven’t gone near a Caesar salad since learning the truth. It turns my stomach even thinking about it. I’ve read The Jungle and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and I’m usually comfortable with the fact that I’m in the dark about what specifically goes into my favorite foods (like hot dogs), but this repugnant revelation hits really close to home. I’m not sure how to live in a post-Caesar salad society.

I guess all I have left is to ask one question: Is there anything gross I should know about in vinaigrettes?