Wednesday, December 22, 2010


This is not a Christmas subject, but the more I look at it, the more it needs solving.
Maybe it’s seasonal overload. Maybe I’m just losing my mind. But I’ve just encountered something I’ve HEARD of, but have never experienced before. I have, as my Mammaw and several of her sisters used to say, had an episode of “Can’t read my own writin’ once it gets cold.”

Granted, I wrote it a while ago. And Granted, it’s been stashed away in a recipe file not-my-own for quite some time, I imagine, for I found it just a couple of weeks ago, rummaging in the upstairs cabinets for stuff to donate to the DAV. The little green bottom-half of a recipe file---green as only the greens of the Seventies were green, of an unfortunate shade then and still referred to as “avocado,” though not a one of those sour, gray colors matches any avocado outside of three-day guacamole in the Café Ole’ parking lot---captured my attention for its memories and for its contents.

The little box (half) was in the cabinet of a little house we rented once for a short while; the lady had gone into a nursing home, and both we and the lease were transitory, for her son was going to sell the house soon. Every single thing from the lady’s life was still right there in the house---furniture, linens, appliances, and every single thing needed for the operating of a home except towels. We hung her bright white sheets on her little clothesline, and slept on those fresh, fragrant linens in the beds she’d raised her family in.

And when we were about to leave, I called the Realtor and had her come over and have a walk-through, for I’d cleaned that place from top to bottom, scrubbing walls and floors and everything in between, and, knowing that the house and contents were to be auctioned, I asked if I might buy the little box before we left. She gave it to me, and I’ve carried it with me through two apartments and three-houses-before-this-one, with its neat little snood of Saran wrap to keep the little cards and clippings from harm.

And, sometime in between there, I wrote that card above. That's my tell-tale back-slant, my loopy letters, my staccato shorthand used in all recipes. It's never failed me until now.

I cannot decipher it, beyond “Worch” must be L&P, and “lab” might be a hastily-uncrossed "t" for Tabasco, and I do believe the “ging” spells ginger in almost any recipe. And see, there---that has to be “vinegar” up there, for I carefully went back and daintily put in the little ghost of an 'i’ to make it right.

But what does it MAKE? What would you DO with it---is it a marinade, a dip for shrimp, a salad dressing? And what on this good blue EARTH is PANCHO?

It’s become our latest Joke-Word in the house---years ago, there was a commercial in which a teacher asks a math question, calls on one little boy, and he blurts, “EGYPT!” We made THAT our watchword for years, using it for any word we couldn’t think of, any word we just couldn’t knock off our tongue-tips, any non-sensical answer we needed to make. We’d just shout, “EGYPT!” at irrelevant times, and all fall out laughing.

But NOW---Caro and I have been chortling over PANCHO for weeks. What does it MEAN? What cosmic confluence affected my mind so drastically that I’ve totally blanked out such a mystery? Did overhead lights suddenly flash on my way home one night, and did I awaken hours later with both time and memory missing?

I have surmised that since I never have any index cards in the house, and since this one seems to have been folded so that I might have tucked it into my pocket after writing down that Secret of the Ages, perhaps it’s a recipe I jotted down at a friend’s house, at a cooking show, from a doctor’s raggedy magazine, and kindly supplied with THEIR card, whoever they were.

And in any conversation, one of us is sure to interject “Pancho” into the stream of talk, in the most inappropriate and unnecessary places, with great cackles of laughter overtaking us all.

Something that silly, and which makes you laugh so much can’t be a bad thing, right?

And so---can anyone help solve this one? I’m a puzzle-solver, a code-breaker, a never-quit mystery buff, but this one is just so silly, I can’t concentrate on the specifics. And this stuff musta been DELICIOUS, for I seldom ask for recipes, thinking I can go home and re-create the dish. But this---this one’s got us all stumped. And maybe it's something wonderful, and we're missing out.

Best translation gets choice of a copy of Elizabeth David Classics, Kamman's The Making of a Cook, or a battered 1955 copy of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book, with the enclosed newspaper clippings, including Ann Landers' Lemon Pie. If you're of another bent, you could choose Margery Fish's Country Gardening or Classic Entertaining by Henrietta Spencer-Churchill. It's my first-ever Give-Away, but this is SERIOUS, folks. I gotta solve this thing.
PS. I don’t drink, and can only plead that senility has set in. Help?


Southern Lady said...

When all else fails, Rachel, GOOGLE it! There is, indeed, a PANCHO SAUCE, which is a steak sauce. Here is a recipe I found that has all the ingredients that you scrawled on that card ...

Pancho Sauce:

1 c. catsup
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. chili sauce
1 tbsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. pineapple juice
1 tbsp. wine vinegar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 drops of hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve with steaks. May be heated, if desired.

Mystery solved ??

Caro said...

Ding Ding Ding!!!!
I think we have a winner!

I kept trying to read the abbrev. for horseradish as Hoisin. Guess that's why it made no sense to me.

And I will still shout it out randomly of I want to!!!!

mustard seeds said...

Well, I have been studying this for about 10 minutes, and came up with horseradish, dry mustard and mayo. I am glad I decided to comment, because that would have puzzled me all day if I hadn't seen Southern Lady's comment. I am glad your recipe problem is solved. Now you need to make it and tell us how it was. Best wishes this Christmas and New Year!

Chesapeake said...

Great to have such friends, huh?

Patsy said...

Merry Christmas!

racheld said...

Well thank you ALL!! And it IS great to be able to count on folks, isn't it?

Janie---sing out your choice of book, and it will be on its way. I just kept thinking I MUST have spelled it funny or SOMETHING, for that just COULDN'T be right.

Didn't think to Google.

I won't be making it tomorrow, though, for Chris' grilled tenderloin is so fabulous, it needs absolutely NO sauce, and besides, he'd be insulted if anybody reached for ANY kind of sauce.

I HAVE made Bearnaise for folks who absolutely requested it, but we never use it.

And Patsy---Merry Christmas to all of Y'all in Arkansas!! That place is dear to my heart, you know.

Re: Caro---yep, she's ALREADY said it once today, and will probably never stop. I don't care---she's terrific.

Chesapeake said...

Amen about your Caro!

Caro, keep it up: you know they need it!

Southern Lady said...

Wow ... this is my first time ever to win something! I would love the book about country gardening, Rachel. It might come in handy when we move to the lake.

Thank you so much for offering such nice prizes for your first giveaway. It was fun helping to solve your mystery recipe puzzle, and I'll look forward to receiving the book.

Tonja said...

I'm so glad you were not counting on me to figure out the recipe...but I'm so happy that it is solved. I bet you will make it as soon as is feasible!

Have a wonderful Christmas!