March is National Sauce Month. And that’s a little weird. Not that we don’t love sauce (that’s what we do, after all); it’s just that defining sauce causes all sorts of problems.
The established dictionary definition of sauce is “thick liquid served with food, usually savory dishes, to add moistness and flavor.” Also, a quick look at online dictionaries will tell you that gravy is a synonym. And it is in parts of the country. At Thanksgiving, you’re just as likely to hear, “pass the sauce,” as you are, “pass the gravy.”
And that’s fine, but it does tend to limit the reach that sauce has.
It also makes it difficult to visit Australia, where they call ketchup sauce. And, in the UK, they have something called brown sauce (HP sauce) that only sometimes is referred to with the word brown before it.
Of course, sauce has a slightly more sinister meaning too. You can say, “he’s sauced” to mean that he’s drunk. And, on the sauce refers to someone that’s a bit of a drinker (and perhaps a little more than a bit).
In that light, National Sauce Month takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?
And, is sauce necessarily limited to “usually savory dishes” or is primarily for the purpose of “moistness”? We think not. After all, we’ve successful proven that hot sauce can go into cookies. Hell, we’ve even mixed it into champagne cocktails. Neither is savory, nor are these recipes that typically require additional “moistness.”
And all this can easily set your head spinning around all the different types of sauce there are… You can have gravy (as we’ve seen), ketchup, brown sauce, and hot sauce. But that’s not all. There are salad dressings and similar condiments. There are also chutneys and pan sauces. Salsa literally translates to sauce, though it can be a thicker blend of vegetables than you may consider to be a sauce.
The funny thing about the diversity of sauce is that it makes it impossible to gauge just how much of it is actually being consumed. All we know is that it’s immensely popular, whether used as a condiment or a part of a recipe.
By all accounts, sauces are continuing to develop and transform what we eat and how much we enjoy it. Having National Sauce Month just shouldn’t be as strange as it is. And, if it gives you an excuse to try a new hot sauce this month, well, we’re ready to celebrate that… even if we’re not entirely sure about what sauce really is!