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History of Worcestershire Sauce


Go to:   Main Food History Index Page  |  Production and Uses of Worcestershire sauce


Although many of us think of Worcestershire Sauce as being very English, it’s origins are firmly entrenched in India. In 1835, an English Lord, Lord Sandy, who hailed from the county of Worcestershire in England, commissioned a pair of chemists, John Lea and William Perrins, to reproduce a sauce he had sampled whilst he was in India. Why he should engage Chemists rather than cooks will probably remain a mystery, but that’s certainly what he did.

They accepted the commission, however after working on the concoction, the end result was anything but pleasant and they finally gave up, leaving the brew in a cellar. They came across it some two years later but before discarding it, they decided to taste it again, probably to reinforce what a hash they made of it. However, much to their surprise, it had improved and matured, a bit like a fine wine or balsamic vinegar. It had taken on an aromatic smell with an unusual piquant taste. There – the original Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce came into being.

We can only assume these chemists were also incredible marketers as before long Worcestershire sauce found itself on passenger ships, hotel dining rooms and restaurants the former being instrumental in spreading the “Worcestershire Sauce Word” all over the globe and its popularity remains in many cuisines worldwide.

To put in firmly in its rightful place, mention should be made of the fact that it’s been commercially available for over 165 years….that’s 45 years longer than Ketchup. So good was the original that there are now over 100 different brands available.

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