A Helping of Gravy: Will Campbell’s All-Purpose Sauce

This article first appeared in issue #53 of our Gravy quarterly. 

Photo by Al Clayton, courtesy of Clayton family
Photo by Al Clayton, courtesy of Clayton family

Will Campbell’s All-Purpose Sauce

Reverend Will D. Campbell was a longtime defender of Civil Rights.

A native of Amite County, Mississippi, he was the author of, among other works, Brother to a Dragonfly. He served briefly as chaplain of the University of Mississippi, before leaving amid death threats over his integrationist views. Late in his life, as the University owned up to its tragic past, Campbell returned often to challenge, cajole, and inspire a new generation of students. This recipe first appeared in Lovin’ Spoonfuls: An Egerton Sampler of Good Things to Eat, published in 1980 by John and Ann Egerton as a Christmas present for their friends. Many of the recipes are written in a narrative style, full of stories of family and friends, shot through with Egerton’s sense of humor. Will Campbell and John Egerton, longtime friends, kindred spirits, and champions of social justice, both passed away in 2013.

WILL CAMPBELL HAS RECEIVED some public notice as a preacher, writer, guitar picker, farmer, friend, and counselor to troubled souls; he is less well-known as a cook, but he and his wife Brenda are two of the finest. Most of Will’s kitchen creations are made from memory, and he is not inclined to reveal their secret makings. But in a weak moment, he once divulged the recipe for his super-sauce, a condiment for all seasons (and for almost all meats, vegetables, etc.). It even makes a good dip. Here, friends, is Campbell’s Sauce: Mix by hand 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice, one clove of garlic (minced fine); season to taste with celery salt, onion salt, black pepper, and horseradish. Now pass the beans, please.