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Recipe Number Forty September 2006
Real Tartar Sauce

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It was a normal Sunday lunch that was disturbed by the sounds of a band marching up the High Street prior to the arrival of the procession.  Helen, sister of the famous commis chef who is now driving his taxi around Lynn, Helen’s job on a Sunday was in the Washing Up Department.  She was solely responsible for making sure that all the plates, cutlery, pots and pans returned spotlessly clean back into the kitchen.  Often she arrived on a Sunday morning only to be greeted by a mountain of dirty pots and pans, but as I told her to be in charge of an important department at her age was in anyone’s eyes quite an achievement and surely a feather in her cap.  But on this warm summer’s day she was given a more important mission to take on board - she was entrusted to be the one to leave her post and stand looking up the High Street and report back to the other staff when the first sight or sound of the carnival was heading our way.

The sound of a snare drum heard in the distance, triggered off Helen to report with post haste back to the staff and for them to inform the customers the news:  the procession is on its way.   It is at that point there is a stampede as the customers decide to leave their tables and either head off outside or gather in the windows to get a good view.  It happens every year - the restaurant comes to a grinding halt. It’s as if you shout out “Hey someone's giving away five pound notes in the car park!”

Once the carnival procession has passed things go back to normal.  Lets face it a plate of prime roasted local beef, with a large crispy batter pudding, drizzled with pan made beef gravy is waiting for the customers as they head back to their tables.  The kitchen staff start cooking again and more importantly, Helen returns once again back to her mountain of pots and pans.

On the way home, I thought about the fact that the British people love the sight of men and women marching specially in step to a good band.  It brings tears to your eyes when watching the telly and it shows a procession coming up The Mall in London.  It makes you want to be there and, of course, for some reason nobody, but nobody can march better than the British.

The first time that I was introduced to keeping step I suppose was when I joined the cubs and scouts, but the real bit of being shouted at: “Rushmore get in step boy”, came when I joined the ATC - the Air Force’s way of giving young lads an introduction into the real thing and what the RAP was all about.

The officer that oversaw our weekly meetings was a slightly portly gentleman with a large well groomed hairy lip.  He was an officer and a gentleman to the core.  The meeting place was held in a large room on the second floor in Paradise Road, Kings Lynn in the late 1950s, and there were around twenty boys that attended each week for drill practice.

Drilling young lads aged around thirteen and fourteen was without a doubt too much sometimes for the officer, so he looked around for a likely lad to help him.  And me being the tallest one there, it came to pass that I was the chosen one.  All this was taking place when there was a bit of trouble out in the Far East and, for some reason, he had twenty lads worried that we may be required to be sent to fight - especially when one night he produced an old 303 rifle and we were told that we were all going to Marham to learn how to shoot.

My promotion was short lived as I had a problem at the time; the problem was that my arms and legs swung at the same time.  To explain - as my left leg went forward so did my left arm.  This came to light one night when we had a visit from a high ranking officer whom found it quite funny as he watched me attempt to march up and down the hall.  To correct this small problem they came up with an idea.  “Put your left hand in your pocket old chap and lets see you march on your own.  By the left, when your ready old chap”, and reluctantly I stepped off.  By George it worked, but only to revert back again when I removed my hand from the pocket.  After a few minutes the top brass had decided that I was not officer stock after all and I returned to the ranks.

The great day arrived when we all arrived by bus at R.A.F. Marham and mixed with real airmen. We had a trip around the camp in the morning and were shown how parachutes were packed.  Then we had the chance of a lifetime - we were escorted into a Vulcan Bomber.  All Top Secret at the time and in the cockpit most of it was covered in sheets of brown paper.  I gather the reason was so us lads didn't see anything and report back to the enemy or - as we all decided - it could have been placed there just in case young Smithy (or “Sniffly” as we called him due to the fact he always had a cold) a lad who’s Dad came from some country that nobody had ever heard of or had never been to may well have been the real reason.

As we left the Bomber the next stop was lunch in the mess.  What a treat was in store for twenty lads that were starving.  We had never seen a spread like it, roast meats roasted potatoes and fresh vegetables were there for you to help yourself to.  “Tuck in chaps - eat as much as you like.”  And so we did, only to nearly choke on a roast potato when a guy around ten foot tall marched over to us, inhaled a large amount of air, and what came next sounded like an air raid warning: “When you lot are finished eating in the next two minutes you will stand in line outside the mess ready to march to the shooting range.”  I noticed all the lads had sadly lost their appetites all at the same time. The march down to the shooting range didn’t go without the officer noticing me bobbing up and down as I tried to get back in step due to the old problem coming back - maybe brought on by the thought of things to come.  “When you joined Sniffly did anyone say anything about shooting?"

As we arrived at the shooting range we were all given a 303 rifle and five clips of bullets.  Once shown how to load the gun we were told to lay down on a coconut mat making sure that the butt of the rifle was tucked well into our shoulder. Once done, we picked out our target and slowly pulled the trigger.  Apart from the sound of a gun going off just a few inches from your face, to a young lad of only fourteen it had the kick of a dam mule.  I don't think that any of us hit the target but Sniffly told us later that all that shooting had cleared his head of the cold, but unfortunately now he was deaf in one ear.  “Join the club”, I said.

A few years ago we had a reunion.  Smithy was there, complete with the sniffly cold.  After a few drinks it was suggested that it would be a cracking idea if we all lined up and had a march.  Maybe it was the effect of a bottle of Cotes du Falling Over Water or maybe the fact that I was never any good at marching - I will never know, but fortyeight years later, once again as I set off my left arm lifted the same time as my left leg.  Heacham Twirlers I need your help!



You know what its like you are sitting in your favoured fish and chip restaurant when the waitress places in front of you a large plate full of freshly cooked fish and chips cooked to perfection, mushy peas and a plate of freshly buttered bread and butter.   What more could you ask for?  “Have you got any tartar sauce please?”

“Of course Sir, I will bring you some.”  It is downhill from there on.  Little packets of whatever, described on the label as tartar sauce.  After you have spent a lifetime opening the container there is a little splodge of green stuff that squirts out.


Its not rocket science to make a real tartar sauce.  You can buy all the ingredients in small amounts from any supermarket, so what do we need to buy?  A small jar of capers, a small jar of gherkins, one small white onion, a small bunch of parsley and a small jar of good quality mayonnaise and that's about it.


How do I make tartar sauce?   It could not be easier - all you do is take equal amounts of all the above ingredients (apart from the mayonnaise) and chop very fine and once this has been done add to the desired amount of mayonnaise.  Stir well together and there you have it freshly made tartar sauce.  The perfect thing to serve with your fish and chips, a dream with deep fried scampi, or fishcakes.


Real tartar sauce is miles apart from that stuff contained in plastic bags, and its real food not rubbish, and we all know that an army marches on its stomach …


Colin Rushmore

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