Good things are happening in Cincinnati’s Westwood neighborhood. One of them is the opening of a new fresh store, Jubilee Market, on the corner of Harrison and McHenry. It’s in a former convenience store, closed down because of drug activity – a result of neighbors banding together to improve and remove crime from their neighborhood. The market project is an offshoot program of Jubilee United Methodist Church, who has in its mission to improve the health of children worldwide. The market will offer affordable fresh produce from another of their projects, the Jubilee Gardens, which are urban gardens throughout the city.
A café called Streets Urban Grill will also be part of the new Jubilee Market. The Grill is inspired by flavors from cultures across the nation with a hint of smoke. They want to “create new memories and bring back old ones as people eat our food.” Two of the menu items they’ll be offering are the Comeback Dog, and the Comeback Burger. To me these are perfect names for one of Cincinnati’s oldest neighborhoods in the midst of its own Phoenix-arising.
Now I have never heard of comeback sauce, so of course I had to determine what the heck it is and its origin. And, not to my surprise, it’s another sauce of the south, invading the North! We’re lucky in Greater Cincinnati, being right on the border of the South. We have the luxury of access to lots of great southern foods already, and then all the crazy Midwestern and German immigrant foods. But I did a quick scan and did not find any other restaurants serving this mysterious Comeback Sauce.
As it turns out, Comeback Sauce, originated in the Greek restaurants of Jackson, Mississippi – around 1935, either at the Rotisserie, or the Mayflower Café, as their house salad dressing. Both were owned by the Dennery family. Jackson was one of the towns in the south where Greek immigrants found work at cafes in the 1920s. As they learned English and the market, they began opening their own cafes and diners. Sounds like our Cincinnati Chili Story. As each opened their own, they took their own recipe for Comeback Sauce and added their own magic.
The Comback Sauce was originally developed as a house salad dressing at the Greek restaurants of Jackson, Mississippi.
The name supposedly comes from the fact that it’s so good that “you’ll comeback for more.” In Mississippi, “it’s not a sauce, it’s a culture!” No good Mississippi diner or café is without it on the table.
The sauce is a mix of mayonnaise and chili sauce, sometimes with ketchup and Worchestershire. It’s basically a Mississippi version of the Louisiana remoulade, and can be used on virtually anything! In Mississippi it’s used as a condiment on burgers and hot dogs, a salad dressing, and a dipping sauce for fried foods like oysters, shrimp, pickles, green tomatoes, fries, and onion rings.
Well, hopefully we’ll see this Southern sauce pop in other locations throughout the city, and I’ll be first in line when it shows up on Kroger’s shelves.