1/31/2013 09:30:00 AM

The Great Debate: Sauce vs. Gravy

If you eat and drink in the Philadelphia region, you may have heard the term “gravy” used in connection with Italian food. In this context, gravy doesn’t have anything to do with the viscous brown liquid poured over turkey, but instead refers to the the chunky red stuff ladled over veal Parmesan - widely referred to as “sauce.” So what’s the deal, is it sauce or gravy? Is there a difference? We asked area chefs and food-lovers to weigh in.

11 comments :

  1. I'm a third generation Italian-American born in Brooklyn. I've lived in various parts of the east coast of the US, from Massachusetts to Florida. The correct term is sauce, as in tomato sauce or pasta sauce. The term gravy is strictly a regional anomaly centered in an around Philly and South Jersey. Some people try to explain a difference between the two by a distinction between meat and meatless. It is a distinction without a difference as all of us had pasta sauce with meat in it. No, the label is one of region only. It all depends upon where you grew up or where your people come from. In Italy there is no use of the word gravy for anything that goes on pasta, pizza, or is otherwise tomato based. It's all sauce. Case closed.

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    1. my grandparents came from Naples and Sicili and we all call it Gravy. we live in the Chicago land area.

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    2. We all know the difference between a sauce and a gravy, but when it comes to pasta, it's not what part of the country you're from when you call it gravy. It's the neighbor you're from. I'm Italian, and grew up calling pasta sauce "gravy", I have many non Italian friends who also call it gravy. Today, kicking back after all the snow, I have a pot of gravy with meatballs, sausage, and some pork cooking on the stove. Mangiare bene!

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    3. NEVER MIND CASE CLOSED THESE RECIPIES WERE BROUGHT HERE FROM ITALY -PASSED TO THE ITALIAN AMERICAN -- AND IF IT'S GRAVY HERE IT WAS GRAVY THERE ! CASE CLOSED.

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    4. AMEN. My Grandparents were Italian Immigrants from Southwest Philly and we all grew up calling it "SAUCE". I grew up in South Jersey and never heard the term gravy until I heard it from "Amerigans" from South Philly. Mama Mia!

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    5. No way is it gravy.........its sauce, sugo or succo!

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    6. Any self respecting Italian knows that gravy is brown and used on beef, poultry or mashed potatoes. In every restuarant I've been in here in America and in Europe I have yet to see the term gravy used to represent a tomato based "SAUCE". You can call it whatever you want but just know Tomato sauce is Sauce not Gravy and that IS case closed.

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  2. GRAVY the fat and juices that drip from cooking meat, often thickened, seasoned, flavored, etc., and used as a sauce for meat, potatoes, rice, etc.

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  3. In Italia non esiste "Gravy".
    Il 99% di quello che negli Stati Uniti chiamano Italian Food non E' italiano.

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    1. Sono d'accordo. Questi americani sono pazzi!

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  4. I think it is a case of all gravies are sauces but not all sauces are gravies. In the southern US a gravy is a fat or oil thickened with a starch, then thinned with another liquid such as milk, water or broth/stock. in other words a variation on a b├ęchamel sauce. We eat this on buscuits and pretty much any kind of meat but often on game which might be a little tough (rabbit, squirrel... yeah you heard me mmmm). In Louisiana these sauces are called rue and are as diverse and complex as you could imagine.

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