In “The Cooks Oracle” from 1922 they give the recipe for Poor Man’s Sauce this way:
Pick a handful of Parsley leaves from the stalks, mince them very fine, strew over a little salt; shred fine half a dozen young green Onions, add these to the Parsley, and put them into a sauceboat, with three tablespoon’s full of Oil, and five of Vinegar; add some grround Black Pepper and Salt; stir together, and send it up.
Pickled French Beans or Gherkins, cut fine, may be added — or a little grated Horseradish. This Sauce is in much esteem in France, where people of taste, weary of rich dishes to obtain the charm of variety, occasionally order the fare of the Peasant.
Well, la-di-da, were the rich folk floating around France in 1922 so bored with “rich dishes,” they sought out food poor people were eating, just to add some variety to their dreary lives? Talk about rich French people problems.
“Pierre! Pierre” cried Marie to her beau. “I can’t stand the idea of another night of Chateaubriand Flambe. Please find out what the poor people are eating, and let’s try that!”
“Marie,” said Pierre, “Poor people are not eating. That’s what you don’t get. They are hungry and don’t have any food.”
“Oh, Pierre! So dramatic you are. They must have SOME food. Find out what it is.”
With that, old Pierre walked around the slums and saw people putting this sauce on their meager food rations. He chatted up a local shop owner and found out how it is made.
Which brings up the question, “What is a Gherkin?” It sounds like something you wear with your wedding tux, or a kind of 60s waist coat made out of hemp worn by assistant professors at Eastern liberal arts colleges, but it’s simply a small pickled cucumber.
I like this sauce. I’ve been poor.