Do you know anybody who can pronounce Worcestershire sauce correctly?
I was talking to a friend the other day. She was telling me her recipe for Sloppy Joes. It included Worcestershire sauce. When she got to that word she stumbled a little saying something like war-chester-shire.
“I never could say that word right,” she commented.
“I can’t either,” I replied. “And I don’t know anybody who can.”
“My husband can,” she stated “He corrects me every time I say it.”
“Well, bully for him,” I said. “He has to be the only person in this country who knows how to say it.”
I’d never heard him say the word but realized that even if I did, I wouldn’t know if he was saying it right or not. Intrigued, I had to investigate.
Worcestershire sauce had its roots in India. Lord Marcus Sandy returned to England after governing Bengal, India, for years. He missed his favorite Indian sauce and commissioned drug store owners John Lea and William Perrins to try to make a reasonable substitute.
Some of the ingredients in their concoction included anchovies, onions and peppers. The original intention of the chemists was to keep some of the batch and sell it in their store. However, with their first attempt the fish and vegetable mixture had such a strong odor they didn’t use it. But they didn’t pitch it. They stored it in the cellar.
It was forgotten about for almost two years and was rediscovered when Lea and Perrins were looking for something else. The aging process had turned the mixture into a wonderful flavored sauce. It was bottled and sold and quickly became a popular favorite. I’m not sure how quickly more could have been made, though, if it had to age for two years.
Can you imagine eating something that stunk so bad you stuck in your basement for two years? I guess it’s good they did because it is now used internationally to flavor meats, soups, stews, marinades, some beverages, Caesar salads, oysters and deviled eggs.
The name of the sauce came from the location of the men who originally made it. Lea and Perrins lived in Worchester in Worcestershire County, England.
According to one internet source the first part of Worcestershire is pronounced Wooster, sounded like rooster but with a W instead of an R. How do you get woo out of w-o-r-c-e? The second part, shire, is pronounced as sure. Put them together and it comes out as Wooster sure with the accent on the woo. The pronunciation sounds nothing like it looks. That’s the British for you.
We Americans will probably always have trouble saying that word. Who cares where those men came from? Why couldn’t they have just called it London sauce or Piccadilly sauce? At least I can say sauce correctly.
Linda Messmer can be reached at 812-448-8725.