saucy thoughts..


Custard was still on my mind, like the lingering aftermath of a bad dream, whilst I was making tomato sauce yesterday,  but the yellow mental miasma was quickly dispersed by the  rising savoury aroma, the deep colour and the evocative flavours of this simplest of home made condiments which had me contemplating how impoverished meal times would be without its comfort. Leaving custard aside, which I’m happy to do, I have found that the regular making of tomato sauce is something that I do without thinking. Don’t misunderstand me, thought aplenty goes into the making of the sauce but not into the why or wherefore; it’s my culinary security blanket knowing that there is always some freshly made sauce on tap, as it were. One glimpse of the blue saucepan in the cupboard and, like the Manchurian Candidate, I’m glassy eyed, knife in hand and madly chopping.  Unlike Laurence Harvey, my uncontrollable reaction is vented on onions and garlic rather than the President of the United States, otherwise I would have to resist making it…..too often.

My tomato sauce evolves at each attempt, for better or for worse; it is a clear barometer of my mood and a reflection of the available ingredients in our kitchen on the day in question. A batch can be affected by a nearly forgotten memory of the final addition of some extra olive oil which gives the sauce a deep glossy finish,  a glance across the kitchen to a bowl of wizened chillies that still are full of fire and fury, the thought of some celery herb that I had noticed pushing it’s way through gravel in the courtyard behind the house or just by upturning my glass of wine into the saucepan. Any or all of these thoughts can change the tone and dialect of each batch. More or less salt, black pepper as well as chillies, a mirepoix base or just simply and quickly reducing a couple of tins of tomatoes to a near jam like consistency…each version  has a vibrant freshness that surprises me and makes me glad that I spent the time at the stove. It becomes a liberating ritual that allows me to write, read or take pictures as I cook, a behaviour which is ill advised in other areas of cooking …. try reading, writing or day dreaming whilst making caramel or scrambling eggs or, on second thoughts, don’t.

Leafing through Elizabeth David’s “French Provincial Cooking” I came across three versions that will not disappoint.

Tomato sauce variations E

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2013, Cooking, Elizabeth David, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Italian food, Mediterranean food, Olive oil, onions, Photography, tomatoes, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to saucy thoughts..

  1. Mad Dog says:

    Ha ha – it all comes out red 😉

  2. Tomato sauce with fried eggs. I’d not thought to put the two together. Now, there are breakfast burritos closer to Texas which use salsa, but I typically equate this recipe to pasta sauce. You learn something new every day.

  3. mrsugarbears says:

    Oh my-this looks delicious.

  4. I was talking to a pal the other day who I thought quite enjoyed cooking and I remember my absolute shock when she talked about a pasta sauce “that she had bought”. I suppose because I never ever buy it, and find making it so easy and restful (and like you, slightly different each time depending on what’s in the kitchen) that it naively didn’t cross my mind that people actually pay good money for jars of very indifferent red stuff. Horrific. Love your saucepan!

    • It amazes me that so many people buy a jar of pasta sauce. When you think that a pack of 3 tins of chopped tomatoes costs about 60ctms.If you added nothing but salt and pepper and cooked them down fast, you’d have a lot of very good tomato sauce……obviously too much work:)

  5. saucygander says:

    How can I go past my blog name sake? 😛
    Good to be reminded of how simple good food can be.

  6. Very well said. You speak for me in ways I cannot. 🙂 Your sauce looks perfect. So well presented in that beautiful blue saucepan. sigh.

  7. suej says:

    I’m on your page with this one – I regularly make batches of tomato sauce for the freezer in order to have a ready ‘base’ for pasta dishes, curries etc etc….

  8. Thank you, Roger. I needed a really good recipe for tomato sauce.

  9. I have to admit I often buy sauce in a jar, but these all sound wonderful. Yours looks especially good. May have to break my bad habit.

  10. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    I’m a great lover of homemade tomato sauce, but I have to admit there’s a line of delicious organic tomato sauces that I buy as a backup.

    Your tomato sauce looks divine, Roger. And so does the photo of it.

    I think I’d be much more enthusiastic about home-made sauces if I could find some really flavoursome tomatoes at the local food market. Even some of the organic produce is less than tasty these days.

  11. Eha says:

    Elizabeth David in any of her formats – just fine with love!! Don’t quite know why but Laurence Harvey always managed to give me the creeps [and him Lithuanian to my Estonian !!!!] so, if you’ll forgive me I shan’t go back to quite a good film and mix that to a wonderfully warm and evocative sauce!!

  12. ChgoJohn says:

    Referring to Tanya’s comment and your reply …
    There are members of my family that buy sauce in a jar, spice it up, and call it homemade. In my family!!! We have/had some of the finest cooks to follow and they’re buying sauce. I’d send them this post but it would make no difference. Such a shame.

    • I love the outrage, and quite right too:)

      • EllaDee says:

        I had similar familial outrage when there was an attempt to change for the worse our traditional breakfast get-together-tomato and onion, an accompaniment ot toast, bacon & eggs, using less or no butter or arrgghhh margarine and tinned tomatoes. No. No. No. It is made with lots of butter, salt & pepper to saute roughly chopped onion, adding roughly chopped tomatoes and sugar. It’s ready when it’s glossy & thick. No shaming them. I rescinded their cooking privileges. Infidels.

      • There comes a time when you have to lay down the law….:)

  13. EllaDee says:

    My big tomato sauces batches tend to be basic – 2 kgs tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, sugar slow cooked in the crockpot for a day but like you if I make smaller batches to use up excess tomatoes I play with variations to hand. I feel bereft if there’s no form of tomato sauce in the freezer, we use it in so many things, and keep a couple of tins of tomatoes on hand so comfort isn’t far away.

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