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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

That Lea & Perrins...What a Fish-Pickle.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not 100% sure "British pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins introduced Worcestershire Sauce on August 28, 1837." I suppose it could be so considering the splashes of history I soaked up at the Lea & Perrins website.

Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce was first created by the Worcester chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins. They devised the recipe in the 1830's when Lord Sandys - a nobleman of the area - was eager to recreate an exciting taste he had acquired on his travels to Bengal.

When Lea & Perrins was first created, it wasn't to their liking and was set aside and forgotten about. It wasn't until the barrels were rediscovered many months later that the taste had mellowed into what we know and love as Worcestershire Sauces. To this day, the ingredients are allowed to 'mature' for 18 months before being blended and bottled in Worcester. Only a lucky few know the exact recipe.

Since I happen to have some rather cool Lea & Perrins recipe books waiting patiently to be shared, and since those recipes books also happen to contain some more in depth history about the creators of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, I'll just go with the "source"!

We all know Worcestershire Sauce is an essential ingredient in a Classic Bloody Mary but, What's Inside Worcestershire Sauce? According to rumors, it's a secret recipe that is closely guarded. (Right up there with those soda people I suppose:) We, however, have a pretty accurate list of ingredients right from the "source".

Do the anchovies surprise you? I must admit, they were a bit of a revelation to me, at first. But then, I remembered an article I read about Garum. Maybe the Roman sauce was more like the modern day Worcestershire Sauce?

Whatever the case, there's always a bottle of Worcestershire Sauce in my fridge. As a matter of fact, I can't even imagine what my favorite dish of sauteed mushrooms would taste like without it! It seems, Worcestershire Sauce was attractive to the opposite sex back in the 50s. Just look at this book, Dishes Men Like offered by Lea & Perrins in 1952.

"If you're curious about the story of this zesty easy-to-use Lea & Perrins Sauce men seem to prefer above all others, here's how it started..."

It has been my experience that when it comes to the world of spices and seasonings, a romantic story usually sells. Of course, there is much debate as to whether there ever was a Governor of Bengal who hoarded the recipe for delight or its weight in gold but, apparently, the story managed to add a nuance of flavor and, a quick Pick-Me-Up too:)

The Lea & Perrins Exciting Ideas Cookbook is undated but, if I had to guess, I would say it was probably published sometime in the 70s. It is also the only booklet of the three that has recipes in color.

Years ago, Lea & Perrins introduced Lea & Perrins White Wine Worcestershire Sauce.

I don't remember exactly when it was. If I had to guess, I would have said some time in the 90s. I would have been wrong according to this introduction from the booklet which for some reason is undated. Why oh why?

For 150 years, we at Lea & Perrins have been making the world's finest Worcestershire Sauce for beef and heartier foods. Now, it is with great pride that we present Lea & Perrins White Wine Worcestershire Sauce for chicken, fish, and lighter foods. It is made from an exquisite blend of fine white wine and the choicest herbs and spices. The result is a delicate yet distinctive flavor that is unparalleled.

By most accounts, White Wine Worcestershire Sauce, disappeared from the grocery shelves without much of a warning. After a few quick google searches, it seems, the sauce had quite the following. Some believe Lea and Perrins Marinade for Chicken is a reincarnation of the original White Wine Worcestershire Sauce. Others don't. Just in case you happen to have a stash in the deep dark pockets of your pantry,

In my travels I came across many "opinions" about the High-Fructose Corn Syrup content in Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. Apparently, the heavily guarded "secret recipe" has a few geographical variations. If you can find a bottle labeled the "British" variety online or elsewhere, the HFCS is substituted with sugar. Canadian stores also sell the variety which contains sugar rather than High-Fructose Corn Syrup.

There is an excellent in depth article in The New York Times about the travels of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. If you get a chance, you might want to "give it a go."

Lea & Perrins bottles, with their characteristic long necks, designed to make it easy to Shake Well Before Using, have turned up in shipwrecks, encrusted with barnacles; in the forbidden city of Lhasa, Tibet; and in the excavations at Te Wairo, New Zealand, which was buried by a volcanic eruption in 1886. I came across one during the Vietnam War in a semi-defunct colonial hotel in Dalat and another in a bar in Samarkand in what was then Soviet Central Asia...As early as 1848, a batch of old letters in the company archives show, crates of the sauce were dispatched to Gibraltar, Malta, Singapore, India, Australia and New Zealand, Mauritius, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Canada and Jamaica, and in the United States, to New Orleans and Cincinnati.

Just a reminder to all you Tasha Tudor fans out there. August 28th is also Tasha Tudor Day. You might want to celebrate with some cherished receipts.

Thank you all for the wonderful warm wishes for my impromptu visit to the fair this weekend. I spent the weekend camping out with friends at the fair which was the reason why my camera was temporarily misplaced. I have since found it:) Hopefully I will be able to organize the slew of pictures I took and share them with you in a future post. for now, I'm more concerned about devouring all your dishes I may have missed while I was gone. Get ready, I'm a comin....:)

Resources:
1. Dishes Men Like (full contents available online for download)
2. What a Fishpickle! That Lea & Perrins