Such Sauciness


One can’t find Tabasco Sauce anywhere in the valley. The insecurity of life without Tabasco will remain until we travel to the source (pun intended) and buy it wholesale.

The journey is to America where in 1870 the McIlhenny family returned to their home on Avery Island, Louisiana from self-imposed exile during the American Civil War.

Edmund McIlhenny happened to buy some hot pepper seeds from a traveller recently returned from Central America. McIlhenny planted them on the Island and then experimented with pepper sauces until he hit upon one he liked. He patented it and a new brand that was to sweep the world was born Tabasco. Freely available everywhere except, Kathamandu at the moment. May be we can’t get it because it is even now being aged in white oak barrels for three years, an essential part of the recipe. Or may be they are looking for cologne bottles which were first used to contain the truly great sauce.

At the moment we have to make do with Tomato Ketchup, which is best eaten with crisps or chips and if you’re desperate with French-fries.

Ketchup or catsup originated in China in 1690 as a pickled fish sauce called ke-tsiap. British sailors took the Asian catsup or ketchup from Singapore to England but the British were unable to duplicate the recipe so they started using other ingredients like ground mushrooms, walnuts and eventually lots of tomatoes. Then in 1876 Heinz launched their tomato ketchup, which was advertised with the words ‘Blessed relief for Brother and the other men in the household!’

In the 20th century Henry J Heinz invented a recipe for tomato ketchup that doesn’t use a preservative.

Becoming more popular on the sub-continent is a sauce that went from India to England then back again to India and finally to the world.

Worcestershire Sauce started its life in India where a certain Sir Marcus Sandys who lived in Worcestershire returned from India with a recipe for the sauce. He commissioned a Worcester pharmacy owned by John Lea and William Perrins to produce it.

The result was so horrible that Lea and Perrins put the jars in a cellar and forgot about it and when they re-discovered it the maturity had improved the taste. They bought the recipe from Sir Marcus Sandys and started manufacturing it. To help to spread Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce far and wide they saw to it that cases of their sauce were on ocean liners and they paid the stewards to serve the sauce in the dining rooms which led to passengers requesting to buy a bottle of this new and appealing food accompaniment.

Early labels on Lea and Perrins said, ‘Butlers in best families… tell you that soups, fish, meats, gravy, game, salads and many other dishes are given an appetizing relish if flavoured with Lea and Perrins sauce’. Another one stated, ‘Club men and all good livers appreciate the appetising relish given to Oyster cocktails, Welsh rarebits, Lobster Newburgh (sic) and all dishes flavoured with this sauce.’

But my favourite label was amongst the first and it said, ‘From the recipe of a nobleman in the county.’

Worcestershire Sauce is now called Worcester Sauce and I can never decide which I like better, the Tabasco Sauce or Lea and Perrins. In a strange way, especially in America, Tomato Ketchup is not just a sauce anymore; it

is a part of a meal. Almost everything is slathered

in it. Personally I like my ketchup with a touch of Tabasco and a little Worcester on the side. Try it.