Sunday, 22 February 2015

sauce is the key

My friend William says that sauces are like mothers; they hold everything together. This statement comes hot on the heels of his lament that Melbourne does not do Mexican food properly. It's the lack of sauce, he says.

It got me thinking about sauces. Every culture has them. And in the whole fancy pants kitchen system, the role of the saucier or the sauce chef, is often the most highly respected role, reporting directly to the head chef or sous chef. Sauces, wowzer. They're a thing.

Now it might come as as no surprise that I'm going to bring up frenchiness here, but France and food, meh, you know it's going to happen.

The French appreciate sauce so much they made five of them the cornerstone of all of cooking. And they named them mothers. Yup. There are mother sauces. Béchamel, velouté, espagnol, hollandaise and mayonnaise, although mayonnaise is controversial because it's not cooked, so there's a bit of a maybe mayonnaise should go and tomato sauce should be in thing that I don't feel qualified to comment on. But, regardless. These sauces...good. Béchamel, velouté, espagnol; they're all flour-based sauces that begin with a roux and then have liquids like milk, chicken stock, and beef stock, in that order, to make them thicker. Other sauces such as the unctuous bearnaise and the garlicky aioli are derivatives of these bases. So these mother sauces are like the head of their own little sauce family because each of them form the base for a whole lot of other sauces.

So the French have the mother sauces. But other countries love sauces too. Curry, soy, fish sauce, tonkatsu. sauce in New Zealand and Australia...? Anyway. Sauce. It's what adds the je ne sais quoi to the food. It tops it off, pulls it together, makes it happen.

Mothers do that. But also fathers do it. Good friends do it. People do it who put the ones they love before themselves and bring it all together to create harmony, balance and goodness.

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