(Lea and Perrins, of course)

...and by doing so I dipped my toe into a culinary river snaking back many thousands of years, to the Romans and the Greeks before them.

Though a fairly modern invention (from the early 1800s), Worcestershire is the modern incarnation of the fermented anchovy sauce that the Romans called "Garum." Garum was essentially to the Roman world what ketchup is to Americans today: the masses put it on everything, and it was much reviled among food snobs. There were Garum guilds, and recipes were guarded as jealously as Classic Coke or those mysterious "11 herbs and spices" in KFC chucken. In the 4th century Roman cookbook Apicius, they call it "Liquamen," but it's the same stuff, and it's liberally applied.

A fermented fish sauce called garum was a staple of Greco-Roman cuisine and of the Mediterranean economy of the Roman Empire, as the first-century encyclopaedist Pliny the Elder writes in Historia Naturalis and the fourth/fifth-century Roman culinary text Apicius includes garum in its recipes. The use of similar fermented anchovy sauces in Europe can be traced back to the 17th century. The Lea & Perrins brand was commercialised in 1837 and has continued to be the leading global brand of Worcestershire sauce.


So, you know, the Roman occupation of Britain had some upsides: roads, walls, every Roman nowadays being played by someone who graduated from the RSC, Worcestershire sauce.

These are the things I like to think about as I mix up a batch of tuna salad to make a tuna melt. A few splashes of Worcestershire sauce are what elevates my tuna salad into the realm of the sublime. That, and sweet pickle relish. But that's a post for another day.