Almanac Food: KD’s Kitchen – Worcestershire Sauce – My Favourite Condiment (What’s Yours?)

 

Lea & Perrins, the original Worcestershire Sauce brand, first released to the English public in 1838. It is still available in various countries, including Australia, today. (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

 

Wikipedia is sometimes worth reading, more often than it’s given credit for, I reckon. In fact, it supplies a good definition of what a condiment is:

 

A condiment is a spice, sauce, or preparation that is added to food, typically after cooking, to impart a specific flavour, to enhance the flavour, or to complement the dish. A table condiment or table sauce is more specifically a condiment that is served separately from the food and is added to taste by the diner.

 

Condiments are sometimes added prior to serving, for example, in a sandwich made with ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise. Some condiments are used during cooking to add flavour or texture: barbecue sauce, compound butter, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, marmite and sour cream are examples.

 

You can tell a lot about a person and their cultural background by the condiments used in the family kitchen during their years growing up. In my case, I distinctly recall such items as Holbrook’s Worcestershire Sauce with its red label containing the words “from a recipe of a nobleman of the county”, Clive of India Curry Powder (which Mum mainly used for curried snags) with an image of a bewigged Robert Clive against a predominately yellow background, and of course other even more widely-used items such as Vegemite and Rosella’s Tomato Sauce with the colourful crimson rosella symbol. This mix of English and relatively more “Australian” condiments was typical of most Aussie households of the era in which I was a kid. And one could do an extensive analysis of the influence of Britain’s other Commonwealth countries upon what we ate (and still eat) in Australia, through such items as the Clive of India brand, but that would be for another time and place.

 

My favourite condiment, if I had to pick one, is Worcestershire Sauce. Put it on steak, lash it on fried eggs, dob it upon cheese before making a jaffle, splosh the savoury, salty dark liquid on a burger, whack some on an oyster in the shell, along with crispy bacon bits – any way you like, I love the stuff. Why do I enjoy it so much? Not sure, really, but I think it has something to do with the unusual taste it possesses, compared to most other things in my diet – the combination of tanginess, maltiness, anchovy and all sorts of other ingredients, including tamarind extract, makes for something wonderfully unique and different.

 

Consequently, I pose the question: what is your favourite condiment and why? Be expansive, if you feel inclined.

 

 

Holbrook’s Worcestershire Sauce, first made in Birmingham, England in 1875. Now, only an Australian subsidiary survives. (Image Source: Alchetron website.)

 

 

Read more from Kevin Densley HERE

 

Kevin Densley’s latest poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, is available HERE

 

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, has just been published (late 2020) by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Recent other writing includes screenplays for films with a tertiary education purpose.

Comments

  1. My dear Dad was a great fan of Holbrook’s Worcestershire Sauce – ‘black sauce’, we used to call it, to differentiate it from tomato sauce. He used it as a table condiment, to use the definition above, lashing it all over his meat and three veg. As a kid, I hated the stuff but, as was the case with red wine, it became an acquired taste as I got older. Now I use it as a condiment, adding it in as I prepare a certain dish. I was also a late-comer to the delights of pepper – too ‘hot’ when I was younger, now a pleasant ‘added spice’ but gently, not profusely, applied.

    But may favourite has always been good old salt! Not so medically or gastronomically correct these days but, as they say, all things in moderation…

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for this contribution, Ian – interesting, indeed. One of the particularly fine aspects of food memories is how they connect to family members (like your Dad) and family life more generally, I reckon. Also, even more broadly, it’s not inaccurate to say that the foodstuffs in our kitchen cupboards and/or pantries fit very much into the context of our social history.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’ll be less than expansive KD

    https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/?s=Mitani

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Interesting means of response, Swish! Mitani Chicken Salt! I’m intrigued and interested!

  5. Seeded mustard. Most lunches & dinners. Not breakfast. Goes with pretty much everything except seafood & fruit.
    The Avenging Eagle has pomegranate seeds on most breakfasts and salads. Not quite a condiment. More an accompaniment/flavour supplement.

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Ah, the joys of mustard, Peter – most varieties of mustard anyway! My personal preference is for the hotter kinds.

    And pomegranate seeds – very interesting; in that context, I’m reminded how an ex-partner used to bake quails glazed with pomegranate molasses. Wonderful! I can taste them as I write this!

  7. I love Worcestershire Sauce KD, and like most of the planet remain unsure of its pronunciation. Great in a slow cooker meal.

  8. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Mickey – judging by the internet, there’s a number of schools of thought about its pronunciation, though “Wooster-sheer” and the simplified “Wooster sauce” seem to be widely accepted.

    And, yes, certainly, it does work really well in a slow cooker meal.

  9. Mickey, I think Kevin is correct. The pronunciation is as in Bertie Wooster of PG Wodehouse fame. One of the unfathomable delights of the English language!

    Now what about ‘Southwark’? The pronunciation, not the taste!

  10. Kevin Densley says

    Has to be “Suth-erk”, doesn’t it, Ian and Mickey? That’s the way I’ve always pronounced it, and the following link backs it up.

    Check this out: https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/how-pronounce-southwark-its-called-15169007

  11. Never go near it. The great ruiner of a perfect scotch fillet.
    A good dijon mustard instead.

  12. Kevin Densley says

    Each to their own, Kate! Palates are individual things.

  13. Kevin Densley says

    Never let it be said that I don’t practice what I preach! I tend to get obsessed by things – currently I have about half a dozen different Worcestershire Sauce brands on the kitchen shelf. (I added a few after writing the above article.) A particularly interesting one is the latest I’ve purchased, which calls itself in large letters on its label CORNWELL’S LANCASHIRE RELISH, then underneath that describes the product as ‘A Milder, Fruity, Worcestershire Sauce’. Mmm … a Worcestershire Sauce that describes itself as a relish from Lancashire .. it seems to have a problematic personality! That said, it is recommended for those who don’t desire the blackly powerful Holbrooks.

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