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Worcestershire Sauce

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Worcestershire Sauce

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Worcestershire Sauce

The ingredient without which no Bloody Mary would dare to show its face, Lea and Perrins’ Worcestershire sauce is an English institution. It was an officer of the British Raj, Lord Marcus Sandys, governor of Bengal, who first brought back to England the recipe for this spicy condiment. He entrusted it to a pair of Worcestershire chemists, John Wheeley Lea and William Perrins, who made up the very first home-produced batch of the sauce. The result was eye-wateringly ghastly, and was hastily dispatched to a cellar to be forgotten. It was only when it was stumbled upon again three years later during a clearout that it was retasted, and found to be transformed. A three-year maturation period has been built into the manufacture of Lea and Perrins’ ever since.

First marketed at the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign, it is now owned by HP Foods and exported to 130 countries. If you don’t do so already, try sprinkling it on toasted cheese, or seasoning the minced beef with it for a cottage pie. And guess what? It even continues to improve in the bottle. Food writer Paul Levy once tasted a 40-year-old bottle of Lea and Perrins’, and compared the taste of it to vintage port.

Photo: Maria Gibbs


Your comments

Absolutely magic. Absolutely English. My understanding was that it was 'discovered' by accident by someone looking to create something entirely different using anchovies

Jeremy Clarke

Totally British, and always a joy to hear a foreigner pronounce its name.
Tabitha Twistleton

Being from Worcestershire myself, Worcestershire sauce has always been part of my life. It is so versitile - as a marinade, as a pick-up for the morning after, in gravy, chillis, stews, well almost anything.
Anthony John Bowen

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My nomination is the garden shed.