“Mystery Ingredient”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] 👨‍🍳👩🏻‍🍳👩🏾‍🍳👨‍🍳

Tomorrow, Wednesday February 5th, my 24th puzzle appears in the New York Times. In an odd bit of happenstance, it was the *third* puzzle I ever had accepted by Will Shortz et al. I’m looking back at the grid, and… I don’t hate it. Which is sort of an anomaly for me in reviewing my earlier work.

SO. Let’s whet our #rosswordpuzzle appetite with a mid-week amuse-bouche. Can you taste that? There’s just… *something* on your palate that you can’t… *quite* identify. Can you?

Go for a dip?

*SPOILER ALERT* This is one of those puzzles that required adding words to my word list to build out the theme set. I wanted to limit myself to SAUCEs that were very identifiably SAUCE. As opposed to, like, dips and drizzles and dressings. So the number of concealable words was actually pretty short. RAGU didn’t offer too many options, but DRAG UNDER came mind, and in it went.

MOLE is delicious. RAGU is a brand name, but it’s also apparently a distinct type of sauce. Useful! And PESTO was an obvious choice, given the letter distribution. And… P[R]ESTO! Theme set.

Is it good? Need more salt? You can be honest.