If you’re gonna have your whole world on a plate, add a drizzle of Marie Rose sauce, Gypsy-style!
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Everything’s Coming Up Roses is a belter of a song (in all senses) made famous by Ethel Merman in her starring turn as Mama Rose in Gypsy. It was originally written as Betwixt and Between for (and then cut from) another musical (High Button Shoes – no, me neither!); Julie Styne repurposed her music with the now familiar lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and the song became Gypsy‘s Act 1 finale. The song has become one of the all-time big belt-out showstoppers and has been covered by all the greats (and not so greats). (You can read more about the show in our You Affogato Getta Gimmick post.)
But never mind about Mama Rose and Gypsy Rose! The big question is, who is Marie Rose and why does she have a pink sauce named after her?
In the 1960s, famed English TV cook, Fanny Craddock, invented the prawn cocktail: prawns bound in a spiced tomato-flavoured mayonnaise, a dish that rapidly became an English staple. However, the pink sauce didn’t get its name until much later.
According to legend (and Google – Ed), in the early eighties, the naval chef catering for the crew responsible for raising Henry VIII’s sunken warship, The Mary Rose, ran out of ingredients to make prawn cocktail and discovered the shortcut of mixing mayonnaise and ketchup… and the name was later frenchified (is that a word? – Ed) to “Marie-Rose” to sound more sophisticated.
Prawn cocktail has seen a resurgence in recent years and can once again be found on restaurant menus without any trace of irony, following its ubiquity in the 1970s and 1980s – although there still remains something pleasingly retro about seafood in a gloopy pink sauce.
Marie Rose sauce – also known as cocktail sauce and pink sauce – has a “proper” recipe that I will leave you to Google but, for most home cooks, mixing mayonnaise and tomato ketchup does the job admirably. I won’t bore you with a recipe as it’s down to individual taste but, for this dish, I mixed 2-3 heaped dessert spoons of mayonnaise (the white wobbly kind from a jar, nothing fancy) with a good squirt of ketchup and, once it got to the right combination of colour and flavour, added a squirt of lemon juice (see, now you’ve gone all fancy with it – Ed).
It’s more usual to mix the prawns in the sauce and serve on shredded lettuce but, as this was my main course (and you’re all fancy – Ed), I arranged the prawns on a bed of lettuce leaves and cucumber and drizzled the sauce over with a garnish of paprika (try cayenne if you want a kick). Now, eat up and give us your best Merman impression…
Blow a kiss. Take a bow.
Honey, everything’s coming up roses!