Being British, HP Sauce and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce were staples in nearly everyone’s fridge. Heinz Tomato Sauce (aka Ketchup) was also extremely popular, especially with kids, but not unique to the UK. While HP sauce is considered the number one iconic British sauce, I believe that L&P deserves to be up there right beside it.
HP’s original recipe was created by Frederick Gibson Garton, a grocer from Nottingham. He registered the sauce in 1895 after hearing that a restaurant in the Houses of Parliament had begun serving it with breakfast; and that is why you will still see a picture of the Houses of Parliament on the label today.
But let’s talk about Worcestershire Sauce. Despite many people having trouble pronouncing it, it a sauce that can be used in many ways and doesn’t only belong on the renowned British breakfast. (If you want to hear how it is supposed to be pronounced click this link: How to pronounce Worcestershire as in the sauce).
Having tried a variety of other makes, the taste of the other recipes is certainly not bad, but there is definitely something missing compared to the taste of the original L&P. Let’s look at the ingredients:
Lea & Perrins
Malt Vinegar (barley),
Distilled White Vinegar,
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Soy Sauce (water, soybeans, salt, alcohol)
Polysorbate 80, Soy Flour
Sugar (Sugar, Table Molasses),
May Contain: Mustard, Sesame.
I am not going to say anything about the ingredients, I am sure it is obvious as why L&P tastes so much better, however, when L&P was first made, the experiment to make the spicy sauce didn’t start out well. The chemists, Wheely Lea and William Henry Perrins, using a recipe by Sir Charles, Chief Justice of India, combined a secret combination of anchovies, brine, molasses, vinegar and spices and the result was truly inedible. However, when the ingredients were left to ferment a while, the entire taste smoothed out and became the sauce we love today. That’s why the label states ‘aged for 18 months’.
One fond memory I have of L&P is from when I was a young child and staying with my grandparents. My granddad would come in around lunchtime, from working on the farm, and pour himself a glass of homemade Scrumpy (harsh cider) and make himself a snack. Using his pocketknife, he would cut himself a slice of old cheddar and a thick slice of bread, he would butter his bread and cover the cheese in L&P and eat it, also using his pocketknife. I can still picture him doing it today. When I have the chance I enjoy the same snack myself, not with Scrumpy or using a pocketknife, but with a nice glass of red wine or milk, depending on the time of day.
During WWII, the company shipped bottles of L&P to the front lines for use with war rations. They stated that it made Bully Beef (corned beef in a can) more edible and if added to jam it was a great substitute for chutney. I can see how that would work but would never have thought of it!
One of the things that I appreciate most about the original L&P, which is the main reason for this post, is the way the sauce dispenses out of the original bottle. I kid you not. I haven’t paid attention to this detail before, but after having just recently finished a bottle of the No Name version and switching to the original, I noticed it right away. It dispenses just the right amount as you gently shake the bottle over your food, allowing the food to be covered where you want it, and not be saturated. A definite game changer for me.
Worcestershire sauce can be put on any food if that’s the flavour you are craving, and we know it’s a staple in a Caesar Cocktail. But if you have any unique recipes or ways on how you use L&P, please leave me a comment below, I would love to try them.