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Friday, August 2, 2019

Worcestershire Was An Accident

                   Worcestershire sauce adds an umami complexity to both salads & meats

Wine-Knows has just returned from its inaugural group to England to sample the Brit’s exploding sparkling wine industry (recently the English “fizz” has beaten numerous well regarded Champagnes in blind tastings).   We stayed in the enchanting Cotswolds area, a region filled with fairy-tale villages right out of a painting my modern day artist Thomas Kinkade.   Worcestershire sauce, created by accident, comes from the Cotswolds' town of Worcester.

In the early 1800’s two pharmacists in Worcester were hired by a local aristocrat to construct a culinary sauce similar to a savory condiment he had tasted in India.  The pharmacists, John Lee and William Perrins, made a concoction but it tasted nothing like what the noble lord had savored on his Indian journey.  Mr. Lee and Mr. Perrins were stuck with an entire barrel of the sauce which set in their basement for years.  One day they discovered the forgotten barrel, re-tasted it and were delighted to discover that it had completely changed to something delicious with the passage of time.

Lea and Perrins began bottling the condiment in 1837 and it became a big hit.  Condiments in Britain at the time were very popular as they gave flavor to an otherwise bland cuisine.  Worcestershire also helped to tenderize tough cuts of meat so it became even a bigger success.   The sauce came to the US in 1839.  To ship it across the Atlantic the company wrapped each bottle in a classical paper wrapper to prevent breakage on the sea journey.  Today, bottles are still wrapped in this brown paper.  Worcestershire, the oldest commercially bottled condiment in the US, is now exported to more than 75 countries.

So what’s in Worcestershire sauce?  Lea & Perrins lists the ingredients on each bottle:   vinegar, anchovies, garlic, molasses, onions, salt, sugar and water.  Although the components are known, the actual recipe is a closely guarded secret. 

Why not celebrate summer with a bottle of English fizz and feature recipes made with Worcestershire?   Worcestershire is terrific as an ingredient in BBQ well as in the dressing of a Caesar salad.

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