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I had loads more elderberries that I’d picked on that abundantly fruiting hedge.

Pontack Sauce, writes Richard Mabey in Food for Free,  is “a relic from those days when every retired miltary gentlman carried his patent sauce as an indispensable part of his luggage. Pontack’s was a famous restaurant … which was no doubt on these gentlemen’s town circuit, and from there this recipe was taken back to the country seats and adjusted to the owners idiosyncrasies.”

I’ve made some, barely adjusting to any of my own likely idiosyncrasies– just followed RM’s instructions below,  using a half bottle of neglected red wine instead of vinegar or claret.

“Pour one pint of boiling vinegar (or claret)  over one pint of elderberries in a stone jar or casserole dish. Cover, and allow to stand overnight in an oven at very low heat. Next day, pour off the liquid put in a saucepan with a teaspoon of salt, a blade of mace, 40 peppercorns, 12 cloves, a finely chopped onion and a little ginger.  Boil for ten minutes then bottle securely with the spices….  The Sauce was reputedly meant to be kept for seven years before use. ”

I love it:  not to be used before, rather than only good until…

Will it last this long with us?  Maybe!  RM writes that it’s delicious with liver, which I can imagine, while everyone else around the web talks about game.  We don’t really eat liver or game so often– sometimes rabbit (cheap and local) or pheasant.  Maybe this Pontack Sauce will occasion an Occasion.

A fingertip dipped in the sauce and licked suggests a hint of bitterness that gives complexity to a British style sauce, which usually are sweet and fruity, sometimes a little sour.   This feels different, so I understand why it might be in the category of the old-style ketchups and sauces like Worcestershire and anchovy-based condiments.  Somewhere I read Pontack Sauce is a wonderful base for gravies.  Seven years from now: my little boy might have a moustache, my daughter, moved away, and at some family meal we’ll all sit together and ponder where we were, seven years ago.  Seven years hence, these are my hugest wishes of today:

There will have been a moratorium on all new fossil fuel development, and any use of fossil energy will be galvanised to a renewable energy future.  Government and civil society will be benevolently oriented to a socially-just adaptation to the challenges a changing climate is wreaking, with rich countries taking responsibility for the damage our technological history has brought the rest of the world.  There’s been an incredible techno-fix that sinks Greenhouse gasses somewhere safe  (I’m allowed to want this– this is MY fantasy!).  We’re all about community and happiness and health, and everyone has enough to eat, and water, and clean air, and all species of bees have recovered in number.  My hollyhocks have spread everywhere around the garden.   I’ve gotten on top of those piles of paper.   All the yoga balancing poses are really easy for me.  The Pontack Sauce is more delicious than today I ever would have imagined.

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