Worcestershire sauce (Recipe: curry dip)
In July, 1981, the US Department of the Army was "honored" by Taxpayers for Common Sense with their Golden Fleece Award, for spending $6,000 to prepare a 17-page manual on how to buy Worcestershire sauce.
Never fear, my friends; you don't need to read the report. I'm going to tell you how to buy Worcestershire sauce (I'll even tell you how to use it), and my advice won't cost you a penny.
Go to any grocery store in the United States. Look in the condiment aisle, the one that has ketchup, mustard, mayo and canned olives. You'll see an orange box that says Lea & Perrins, and inside will be a bottle mysteriously sheathed in a tan paper wrapper. And inside that wrapper you'll discover a bottle exactly like the one in my pantry.
Worcestershire (pronounced WOOH STER SHEER, or, sometimes in England, WOOH STER), contains, according to the label, malt vinegar, spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind, shallots or onions, garlic, spices and flavorings. Exactly which spices and flavorings are a closely-guarded secret; only 3 or 4 people in the Lea & Perrins company know the complete recipe.
Worcestershire sauce originated, as you might expect, in Worcester, England, in the early 1800s. A certain Lord Sandys, returning home from travels in India, brought back a recipe for a condiment he'd tasted, and he asked local pharmacists Joe Lea and William Perrins to duplicate the sauce for him. They did, and they put aside a few gallons for themselves. When they tasted it, Messrs. Lea and Perrin proclaimed it vile, and relegated it to the cellar. Several years later, however, they uncovered the jars and decided to taste once more. The sauce had mellowed into something quite delicious, and an enterprise was born.
When Fernand Petiot, barman at Harry's New York Bar, tossed some Worcestershire sauce in with vodka and tomato juice in 1921 to create a Bloody Mary, this pungent earned a place in homes and restaurants everywhere. It's a key ingredient in Caesar Salad, as well as soups, stews, and zillions of variations of barbecue sauce. No pantry should be without it.
A favorite at our house, this dip tastes great with cold vegetables, pita triangles, or crackers. Makes 1 cup.
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp mayonnaise (or half mayo + half plain yogurt)
1/2 tsp curry powder, mild or hot
1 Tbsp ketchup
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill at least 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to marry.