Home-made and old-fashioned is how Worcestershire sauce gets presented, but it is much more exotic and interesting than that. Take Lea & Perrins, the condiment's biggest manufacturer. Swivel that giraffe-necked bottle, with its Victorian typeface and royal-appointment crest, and look at the ingredients. They include anchovies from the Mediterranean, tamarind from India, chilli peppers from Africa. Oh, and soy compounds and unspecified flavourings, from who knows where. No matter: this is the world stuck in a bottle and left to ferment. The finished product is far spicier than most British cuisine, which is probably what encouraged the legend that the recipe was procured by an old India hand, just back from Bengal.
Mere myth-making, but harmless enough in an age when British produce can do with a good back story, although Worcestershire sauce has more going for it than that. Equally harmless are meaningless surveys, one of which yesterday declared the sauce to be the British food that has had the biggest impact on international cuisine. It was a timely reminder that the bottles that roll off an assembly line in Worcestershire end up as far afield as El Salvador (for tortillas), Spain (in vinaigrettes) and Hong Kong (as a dip for meatballs). And since the Bloody Mary was invented in Paris, drinking establishments around the world have kept a bottle behind the counter. Proof of the sauce's internationalism lies in the mangling of its name in the US. Over here it's wooster; Americans call it wustershear
Edited by TheGreenOne, 31 May 2007 - 01:36 PM.