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The point of tartare sauce has always been to provide a piquant contrast to the mild-tasting food it accompanies. In one knife-sharp hit, this sauce of mayonnaise, gherkins, mustard and capers continually sharpens an appetite that would soon be dulled by mouthful after mouthful of crumbed or battered food. Traditionally the sauce exists to put some much-needed spark into fried or crumbed fish, lamb cutlets or sweetbreads. After years of service in the dented sauceboats of hotel dining rooms, tartare made its bid for wider appreciation with the 70s pub lunch of scampi in the basket. But history has not been kind to our classic accompaniments and this one is in danger of going the way of true salad cream.