When we think of sauces and gravies, we often think of hearty comfort food of the colder seasons. Thanksgiving gravy, Indian Pudding, soups, and liquids to warm the body, mind, and soul. But summertime is just as much a time for sauces as any other! Let’s see why.
What is a Saucier?
In the epic 1979 film Apocalypse Now about the Vietnam War, there is a character detail that some people overlook or forget: one of the American soldiers is not only a chef, but a saucier. Yanked from the kitchen by the draft, he laments the military’s poor food quality and longs to be back in his Louisiana kitchen. He explains to his fellow soldiers that he wasn’t just some fry cook, but a French-trained specialist in sauces for dishes. Who knew?
The Art of the Sauce
Let’s face it: some food is on the dry side. Starches, potatoes, pizza crust, fried food, bread, rice, etc: they are all wonderful bases for building flavor, but on their own could use a bit of lubrication. Some folks like bland food, and that is okay, as it’s often a result of health issues, family upbringing, or culture. There’s nothing worse than trying to gulp down a mass of pizza crust– but nothing better than a dollop of ranch or blue cheese to go with it.
The Sauce is Ancient, Even Holy
We can imagine the discovery of sauce for food, a 2001: A Space Odyssey-like monolith moment. Maybe some animal fat fell into a cooking vessel or someone had a Eureka moment when a solid and liquid mixed makes a nice sauce. Ancient Greece may hold some answers. A hilarious Saturday Night Live skit shows a customer ordering a gyro from a Greek cafe and wanting more delicious sauce. The cafe worker ascends Mount Olympus, where the Greek gods hand down the sauce/juice.
Salsa is Just Sauce
If you’ve ever wondered about the mysteries of the Spanish language and Latino culture, “salsa” just means “sauce.” Tomatoes mashed up and hit with a little seasoning, some garlic, and spice, are all you need for the simplest and most satisfying of sauces. (Perhaps this is the origin of the sauce?) You can also look to the American South for sauce inspiration: Brown Gravy, Red-Eye Gravy, and Comeback Sauce all await. Chef Becky makes a Blueberry Salsa that utilizes blueberries instead of tomatoes (remember, tomatoes are a fruit!), with mint instead of cilantro.
Chef Becky on the Sauce
“As an outsider chef who learned by doing, I have to admit I was a bit intimidated by sauces at first,” Chef Becky says. “But once you learn the basic building blocks, you’ve got it down. Then the sauce is all in the execution and preparation, and how it’s served.” Nowadays the Chef can do sauces in her sleep, as well as their variant cousins: chutneys, pico de gallo, spreads, jams, and drizzles. “Sauces are great for flavor-building. You can take them in acidic directions with vinegar, or make them sweet, thin, thick, salty, whatever you please. Certain foods just soak up the sauce and create complimentary tastes. Cuisine from India is largely based on the curry – a combination of spices – and the sauce. It’s a great way to learn how to cook, to use fats, liquids, solids, herbs, and spices.”
Come down to Bex and get saucy!