This Stuff Tastes Like Jackson


When our boys marched home from WWII, they brought some interesting stuff back with them. Down South, #1 was the realization that “darker folk” were just like them!, every bit as brave, resourceful, etc. This was the cultural crack that began to corrode the odious Jim Crow edifice from within, and helped topple it some twenty years later.

Another exotic thing the Southbound grunts brought back was a hearty Greek salad dressing, bursting with garlic and onions. It ain’t French. It ain’t Thousand Island. What it is, is what you call your “comeback.” Different cities in the Deep South actually have their own specific versions of this elixir, but the following is the actual recipe of “Kumback” a la Jackson, Mississippi, still served today at spots like the Mayflower, the Elite, the Cherokee, the Crechale’s (but I kid Bob Crechale), etc.

Jim Dollarhide, a very fine filmmaker (full disclosure: we worked together a lot back in the Eighties whenever he needed a writer), swears that this version was originally made at The Rotisserie. “Later on, other restaurants adopted copycat versions: Mayflower, Primos, Dennery’s, etc.” All I can tell you is that I’ve made this recipe, and it rocks. Let’s go to the kitchen:


1/2 cup Wesson oil
4 teaspoons mustard (from a jar, not the spice rack)
1/2 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
2 cups mayonnaise
1 lemon, juice of
5/6 garlic cloves or about 2.5 – 3 tablespoons of minced garlic
3 Tablespoons Heinz chili sauce
2 Tablespoons onion juice (or just chop up a bit of onion very finely)

Put all ingredients in blender and mix thoroughly.

Hoss, this is the real stuff, it’s tres easy, and it keeps! It also sparkles when poured over most hot veggies.

EDIT: Here’s a buncha information on the history of kumback, including a great Clarion-Ledger piece from ten years ago: sort of the one I wanted to write, except I would have studded it with direct quotes. But let’s get one thing straight. As Malcolm White sez in the C-L piece (and below), and as Jim Dollarhide attests in the comments below, kumback was introduced by the Rotisserie, not the Mayflower!


39 Responses to This Stuff Tastes Like Jackson

  1. Nancy says:

    uh, prepared mustard or dry mustard? Sounds fabulous.

  2. Tom Dupree says:


    Huh? NORMAL mustard, the kind used by REAL Americans!

    Just dip those tsps into the huge YELLER French’s [damn you, I thought we were rid of you when we got rid of your Fries in the capitol grill!] cauldron, or else squirt ’em on your spoon from the socialist yankee goddam plastic mommas-boys little teeny squirt spot… [Sorry, I have to take grampa away…I’ll be right back…]

    Nope, just slap on regular ol’ yellow mustard. I’ll be waiting for the verdict from your clan!

    • Nancy says:

      Y’know, I kinda figured it a. wouldn’t be Grey Poupon and b. wouldn’t be the past-the-expiration-date dry McCormick stuff in the pantry. Can’t wait to mix up a batch! P. S. You do know, don’t you, that we call that icky yellow French’s stuff (my men’s fav), the “wuzzy” mustard? I keep it on hand for when my mother-in-law visits. Harumph.

      • Tom Dupree says:

        Hee hee hee! You are a gem! But whomp a batch of this stuff up, and tell me what y'[all] think! [P.S.: Upon reflection, I think Grey Poupon, or any Dijon mustard, would only *improve* this dish. Jim $hide, what say you?]

  3. Jim Dollarhide says:

    The story behind me getting the recipe is that a life-long friend of mine, Gary “Woody” Woodward’s grandmother asked the owner of the Rotisserie for the receipe and he, uh, didn’t give it to her. So when he wasn’t looking, she went back in the kitchen and got the old black lady in charge to write it down — on a paper napkin. DON’T SKIMP ON THE GARLIC or LEMON!

  4. Mary says:

    How long does it keep?

    • Tom Dupree says:

      Mary, it’s salad dressing and it’s full of mayo, so not forever, but make it in this quantity and keep it closed in the fridge, and you’ll run out long before it does.

  5. Tom Dupree says:

    This is from Len Stanga via Facebook:

    A couple of years ago, I was in Greenwood on a shoot for Viking. We went to the Crystal Cafe for lunch and when the waitress took dressing orders for our salads, I responded, “comeback”. Lowering her pad, she turned to face me directly and enunciating carefully, she asked, “what kind of dressing do you want on your salad?” I asked her if she’d never heard of comeback dressing, to which she responded, “I’m not from here.” “Well, where you from, darlin'”, I asked. “Greenville,” she responded.

  6. Steven Hicks says:

    While the argument over whose restaurant makes the best/most authentic “Kumback” dressing is an essential part of cultural literacy in Jackson, often overlooked is what item it goes best on. May I modestly suggest:

    The Elite — the rolls. Duh.
    Crechale’s — the onion rings
    Hal & Mal’s — Bacon Cheeseburger
    Mayflower — damn near anythings
    Cherokee Inn (where it’s just called House Dressing) — cheese fries

  7. Stanley Graham says:

    Shortly after the Rotisserie closed my uncle Ishee gave us “the” recipe for what my mom wrote down as Come Back Dressing. Oddly it is the only recipe in the SOUTHERN EXPRESSIONS COOKBOOK that got past the proof readers with a mistake; the book was published without the chili sauce being included in the Come Back Dressing recipe. So, for what it’s worth – another “original recipe” that rocks!

    2 large cloves of Garlic, minced
    1 Cup of Mayonaisse
    1 tsp. Mustard
    1/2 Cup Wesson Oil
    1 T Worcestershire
    1 tsp. Paprika
    1/4 Cup Onion, grated
    1 T cold water
    1 1/2 Cups Chili Sauce
    Tabasco to taste
    Salt and Pepper to taste

    Place all ingredients in a blender. Puree for one minute. Refrigerate overnight.

    I love collecting recipes and cooking. I am going to make your Kumback Salad Dressing right now!!!

    Thanks, Tom.

  8. Stanley Graham says:

    That pesky Chili Sauce did it again. It should be 1 1/2 Cups of Chili Sauce…

    • Tom Dupree says:

      I saw that and was going to ask, but you beat me to it. I went back and changed it in your comment above in case anybody tries to make it without reading further down.

      It’s interesting to compare your unc’s version against Jim’s. They’re in the same classroom, but yours has more chili, less mustard and mayo. I think I’m gonna try *yours* next time, or maybe even make ’em both and compare. I’ll bet different Jackson restaurants in the late Forties and Fifties added their own signatures to this sauce.

      As Steve says above, debating this and that about Kumback is part of the town’s cultural literacy, but I wish the truth hadn’t already faded into the mists of time, like who was actually the original Ray of New York’s many competing and similarly named pizza joints. You can actually start a fistfight in certain pizzerias by loudly stating your opinion, and there are definitely diverging histories, but really, *nobody knows any more*.

      Dear Steve and other Jackson writers: investigating the True History Of Kumback would make a great PORTICO article, if you had the time to actually dig around and do some interviews!

  9. Steven Hicks says:

    Tom: It’s interesting you suggested PORTICO. I pitchched the idea to Karen Gilder in December and received no reply.

  10. Tom Dupree says:

    Bad call, man: it’s a NATURAL for them. Maybe re-pitch?

  11. brenda says:

    I wrote an article on Comeback Dressing for *Delta* magazine a couple of years ago, and interviewed the late Mr. Mike Kountouris of the Mayflower. He, too, credits the Rotisserie as the originator. A little bowl of this stuff and a basket of Saltines pretty much makes a meal for *moi*!

    • Tom Dupree says:

      What I was proposing, and would propose today if I still lived down there, would be a story about the *opposing* views on who serves [or did serve] the original Kumback. I wouldn’t want to solve the riddle, just suggest it. Cover story for the food section in the Sunday paper. [Do they have one?]

      EDIT: I meant a food section, not a Sunday paper.

  12. Tom Dupree says:

    From Malcolm White via Facebook, with his permish:

    Every version of Kumback/Comeback owes its origin to The Rotisserie. I wrote a short piece on the subject for the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MISSISSIPPI, which the University Press has been working on for years.

  13. Mary Addison says:

    I remember going to the Rotisserie as a little girl with my parents and eating the kumback sauce on saltine crackers. Does anyone know if a cookbook was published with recipes from the Rotisserie Restaurant. I would love to have one if there is such a thing. Any info would be great.

  14. MA says:

    My 80-something next door neighbor, Winnie, gives us a quart of home-made comeback every year at Christmas and this is one of our favorite ways to use it.. fry up some nice, thick slices of green tomatoes and top with spicy, boiled shrimp that have cooled. Put this on top of a bed of spring mix or whatever type salad greens you like and top with comeback. (Don’t forget to soak the tomato slices in buttermilk before rolling in cornmeal). Enjoy!

  15. brenda ware jones says:

    I wrote an article about this very delicacy for *Delta* magazine—Tom, I’ll send you the Word doc. I interviewed the late owner of the Mayflower, Mr. Mike Kountouris, who did indeed give credit to the Rotisserie. Alas, he gaveth not the recipe…but y’know, peeps, it’s pretty easy to copy. Put enough lemon, garlic, cayenne, etc. into that good ol’ mayo/ketchup base, splash of Worcestershire, and lap it up on them Saltine crackers!

  16. brenda ware jones says:

    Wow, how embarrassing…I just noticed that I’d already replied to this post months ago! Well, at least I’m keeping my story consistent. It’s deja vu all over again. Again.

  17. Nancy Jones McKay says:

    I am going to add to the Comeback or Kumback Dressing discussion. I’m far too lazy to actually scroll up and see how different mine is; it appears they all use the same ingredients. Someone indicated already that this makes a great Christmas gift. I shall keep this in mind for next year!

    Juice from one med. Grated onion
    1 cup mayonnaise
    ¼ c chili sauce
    ¼ c ketchup
    1t mustard
    ½ c oil
    1t worchestershire sauce
    1t black pepper
    3 large buttons garlic, grated
    Juice of one lemon
    1 t water
    Dash Tabasco
    1t salt
    Mix all together in a blender or food processor; put in jar and shake well and enjoy!

  18. Dorothea Brock says:

    O.k. ya’ll. Here’s a recipe for “Want More” Sauce from a cook book called “let’s cook somethin’ nice,” page 43. It was compiled by the Woman’s Auxiliary,” St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Jackson, MS in 1949.

    Mama had an advertisement in the cook book for her first beauty salon located on Yazoo St. in Jackson. Here it is.

    Want More Sauce
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 cup mayonnaise
    1/4 cup ketchup
    1/4 cup chili sauce
    1 t. prepared mustard
    juice of small onion
    1/2 cup oil
    1 t. Worcester sauce
    1 t. black pepper
    dash Tabasco sauce
    dash paprika
    Mix all ingredient thoroughly. Keep refrigerated.

    I use mor garlic, light mayo and olive oil and a dash or so of curry powder. Love it.

  19. Tom Dupree says:

    I am crazy for all these slightly disparate recipes: let’s make ’em all and compare! Thank you, everyone! Keep ’em coming: we are finally uncovering the mystery of Kumback!

  20. Tom Dupree says:

    Someone — PORTICO, are you listening? — needs to host a kumback kookoff. Airbody gets to make theirs one day prior. Fridge ’em all overnight. Then they get to retain room temp however they want. Saltines, filtered water…a few Jacksonian foodies to be the judges…let’s go!

  21. Barbara Adcock says:

    I know this sounds silly, but on a similar subject, does anyone have the recipe for Primos oil and vinegar dressing? I’ve tried to recreate their simple lettuce salad over the years but just haven’t gotten it exactly right yet. The old Northgate location was the site of many family celebrations and I could have foundered on the salad when I worked around the corner from their downtown location. Lunch was always a tossup between that, the Elite, or the Mayflower (crab salad) and depended on how much time I had. I MISS Jackson restaurants!

    • Tom Dupree says:

      Northgate is very dear to me too. I actually inaugurated the short-lived “Hayloft” upstairs music room. I had just been on local tv, promoting the Mississippi Arts Festival, with an amusing “talkin’ blues” song, thus the booking. So I got to see the following on a marquee for the first and only time in my life: SONGS BY TOM DUPREE IN THE HAYLOFT. Couldn’t imagine what I would sing, since I’m not a very good singer at all. But, inspired by Bob Dylan and Lord Buckley, I did manage to entertain them. Whew!

  22. Dale Caldwell says:

    Primo’s Nothgate! My family lived in a house at that location during WWII. my dad loved the kumbach sause at The Rotisserie. I believe there is a recipe in my mother’s cookbook. We often serve up a wedge of iceberg lettuce with kumbach sauce on it as our salad.

  23. Ssabrena says:

    I have eaten at The Elite all my life. The rolls, comeback sauce and the veal with white cream sauce gravy are my favorites. I will be making the come back sauce. Thanks for the recipe. Now if only I had the recipe for the veal with white cream sauce gravy I’d be one happy lady.

    • Tom Dupree says:

      I was in Jackson last week after a long time, and made sure to have lunch with a friend at the Mayflower. The remoulade — I mean kumback sauce — was delicious with my Mayflower Salad [the one with the crabmeat on top]. Mmmmm. It does taste like Jackson!

  24. I’m so glad you shared this! Great read and I’m definitely looking forward to making a batch of comeback this weekend!

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