The Washington Post recently awarded its Critic's Choice Best Read of the Year Award to "The Cook's Tales." Dealing with origins of famous foods and recipes, we are taken alphabetically on a humorous jaunt into the history of food, cooks and cooking.

Here's a "saucy" example of the letter "P."

P is for Pepper


No one who has ever tasted this sauce has failed to ask for the recipe. Although the exact origin is unknown, most concede the South gave birth to it. Some say the sauce was named not for the Biblical character, but for the Southern belle played by Bette Davis in the movie of the same name. Like her, it flouts all your preconceptions.

It's not anywhere near as biting as you might think, nor is it too sweet and fruity. You should treat it like a fine cognac and let it mellow for at least a week in the refrigerator before serving. You can serve it cold, but it's better at room temperature.

To use it as an appetizer, pour it over cream cheese and serve with crackers. (Many people skip the cream cheese and serve it plain.) It also makes a delicious condiment for baked ham.




2 jars (18-20 ounces) pineapple preserves or jelly

1 large jar (18-20 ounces) apple jelly

1 small can (1.12 ounces) dry mustard

1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

1 small jar (4-5 ounces) fresh horseradish

Cook the jellies over low heat until melted. Remove from heat and dump in other ingredients. Stir well. Let cool and refrigerate for at least a week before serving. In case of emergency, however, you can make it the same day.

- From "The Cook's Tales" by Lee Edwards Benning.