…the day I have waited 48 years for: National Tartar Sauce Day. I didn’t think I would see it in my lifetime, but it was absolutely worth the wait.
Go ahead, weep tears of joy.
This day is a movable feast, to be observed the first Friday after the beginning of Lent. On Wednesday I had ashes placed on my forehead, as I contemplated the dust from whence I sprung, and to which I will eventually return. It’s inevitable, but not too close at hand, I hope. Until then, there is tartar sauce to comfort me as I traverse this vale of tears.
When I was a wee girl, I looked forward to the night that came about once a month. when my mother was tired of cooking. My “everything from scratch” mom would scatter (ready-made! store bought! frozen!) fries, and Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks on two baking trays. Then, I would hold vigil at their seemingly endless sojourn in the oven, sustaining myself with fantasies of tartar sauce.
I like to think of it as a salad of sorts. It’s a creamy salad for sure, but the best tartar sauces have chopped up tart little pickles, capers, lemon juice, maybe even scallions and chives! This is all salad stuff, Eaters!
I am not making fried fish from scratch tonight – I bought it breaded and frozen – but I do have potatoes for oven fries, which makes me miss my paternal grandmother’s special French fry cutter. I recall watching her, a frail woman who had endured a hard life, press the potato through the cutter with determination. There is a version of this mechanism available at Dick’s Sporting Goods, which seems fitting to me, as it’s a sweaty, muscular endeavor to get an unwieldy Russet to submit. It could be a competitive sport. Besides the French fry cutter, my grandparents had a Fry Daddy; so a hot summer night of fish and chips was truly a splendid event for my 8 year old self.
My husband will eat my mother’s sublime apple pie, or just whatever substandard pie is lying around. He applies the same philosophy to pizza. I was a kid who loved my grandparents’ outdoor fry-ups with fresh fish, Mrs. Paul’s industrially-breaded fish sticks, and even the lowly (but lovely) McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish I got to eat as a reward for getting vaccinations. What would these meals be without tartar sauce?
Ladies, it’s your day! And believe me, they are only giving us one; so don’t hesitate to celebrate, by getting sauced.
International Women’s Day Tartar Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon horse radish (more if you like)
1/2 cup chopped cornichons or other tart pickle
1/4 cup chopped capers
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon diced scallions (optional)
a dash of pickle juice to taste
Mix all the ingredients. Enjoy your moment.