Chip-shop curry sauce. WTF is it, actually?
Life is full of mysteries, and this is one of them
We've been saying it for decades. 'And a pot of curry sauce, please.' But have you ever paused, forked chip en route to that miniature bucket of apparent baby poo (see pic, above), and asked yourself what it is, exactly?
Chip shop curry sauce has been around for a very long time indeed. When I was a boy, it's meaning and origin were already lost to history. Everybody knows what curry sauce is, and yet nobody knows. If asked to describe the flavour, as a food critic might, what would you say? What does it actually taste of?
It doesn't really taste of curry; not even 1970s home-made British leftovers curry. It doesn't have any sultanas in it, for one thing. It isn't exactly sweet, but it isn't especially savoury, either. It's not really spicy. Is it fruity? It is everything, and yet nothing.
It tastes of chip-shop curry sauce. It is an absolute, and there are taste receptors on your tongue there to recognise curry sauce but completely dormant the rest of the time. It is elemental, and has a place on the periodic table of flavours, along with the likes of apple, or cinnamon, or burnt toast. But it is a confection of some sort, not a natural occurrence. What stuff 'tis made of, and whereof 'tis born, we are to learn.
There are a few clues. Chip-shop curry sauce is only available in chip shops, and it always tastes exactly the same, everywhere in the country. It's also exactly the same colour. The only variation in curry sauce is the consistency, which suggests to me that it's made with a powder or concentrate of some sort.
But since it is otherwise universal, I'm guessing there is one centralised supply. If we could find the source of the sauce, we could eliminate it, like a deadly virus that survives in a lab. We all order curry sauce, especially after an evening on the sauce, but we always regret it, because the tiniest of portions can generate revolutionary volumes of flatulence.
Hunt it down, corner it, kill it off. Bury it in concrete.