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Worcestershire Sauce: Controversial Secret Past from India with Lea and Perrins History


Worcestershire Sauce: Controversial Secret Past from India with Lea and Perrins History

Worcestershire sauce frequently termed as Worcester sauce, is a fermented fish liquid condiment created in Worcestershire, England. It is Worcester's most famous product that can enhance food such as salads, steaks, oysters, and deviled eggs and drink recipes including cocktails such as Bloody Mary and Caesar. It takes 18 months for the fermented sauce that graces the steaks of so many.


Origin of Worchester's Sauce:

The Worchester’s famous sauce has its roots in India but was accidentally created in the town of Worcester, England in 1835. It first popped out of the brains of inventors, chemists John Wheeley Lea and Henry Perrins in the first half of the 19th century, who later collaborated and formed Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce.


Thus Michael Portillo, the presenter of great British Railways Journeys BBC documentary series mentions that the concept of Worcestershire sauce took shape from Bengal and Britishers just added spice and flavor to it.


According to Lea & Perrins company, the governor of Bengal Lord Marcus Sandys returned home to retire in Ombersley, England after many years of governing Bengal, India. He missed his favorite Indian sauce and so asked the commissioned drug store owners John Lea and William Perrins to copy the same sauce that he has brought from India.


At that time, John Lea and William Perrins were busy making medicines, hair products, and any number of old-time drugstore type items like Dr. Locock’s Lotion for the Growth of the Hair.


Lea and Perrins had a bunch of Asian spices and dried fruits, plus American spices and other ingredients. So, they accepted the request of Lord Sanday’s and thought to keep some of it to sell in the store but the mixture of fish and vegetables had such a strong odor that they decided otherwise and stored it in the cellar.


They completely forgot about it and was rediscovered during clean-up after 2years. The liquid had aged wonderfully flavored sauce which was bottled and sold. In a very small time, it became a hot item with customers.


But there are some historical inaccuracies with this origin that there were no historical records that Lord Sandys was ever in India, much less the governor of Bengal which gave rise to another tale that Elizabeth Grey visited the wife of Lord Sandy.


Lord Sandy’s wife got a craving for curry powder so she replicates a dish she learned from her uncle who had been a former chief justice in India. She then recommended the chemist to recreate the dish. The facts that the exact origin story died with Lea and Perrins. This particular brand was commercialized in 1837 and the first bottles of sauce were published in 1838. They sold 636 bottles in 1842.


Also Read: History of Tea: Fascinating Story of Chinese Emperor Shen Nong & How it Came to India!


Lea and Perrins were a successful salesman who went around with their truck full of medicine, some of their products were in high demand in the surrounding towns like Birmingham, and even abroad. Lea and Perrins convinced the steward on British passenger ships to include in their dining set up. It became British staple as steak sauce and further emigrated worldwide. It commercially arrived in New York in 1839.