I doubt there is an adult in the world who has never tasted these two fantastic creations. Where would we be without them? Oysters would not benefit from the piquant hit of Tabasco, cheese toasties wouldn’t be the mouth-watering adventure Lea & Perrins have made it, and no bloody marys that’s as damn sure as mustard. Without these two condiments life would be dull, of course we would no doubt have an alternative, but that doesn’t bare thinking about. School followed by University is often when we have the values of these sauces bestowed upon us and I for one began my affair with them early, an affair that will certainly last forever.
I always presumed it was from Mexico…its not. As it says on the bottle it is from Avery Island in Louisiana. It was developed by a genius called Edmund McIlhenny in 1870. Legend has it he obtained some hot pepper seeds from a traveler who had recently arrived in Louisiana from Central America. He then began experimenting with sauces and came up with the winning formula. On how it is manufactured according to the Tabasco website:
“It's still made from tabasco pepper mash that's been aged up to 3 years in oak barrels, mixed with high-grain all-natural vinegar and a small amount of Avery Island salt. This unique aging process delivers unmatched concentration and piquancy - not just heat or bite.”
Even the bottle is unique as young Edmund originally bottled the sauce in old cologne bottles, which are the same design now, this is the reason it comes out in drops.
So there you have it, a few facts about the little sauce we all love so much.
The base ingredient of this sauce which many do not realise is anchovies. Again, a great story behind this one too, according to the history books this sauce began in the 1800’s. Lord Sandys, a nobleman, arrived back from Bengal with a recipe he had got his hands on, he passed it on to two chemists John Lea and William Perrins in the hope that they could put it together. They did and found it disgusting, so they put the bottles of sauce aside somewhere deep in their cellar. A few years later they were having a clean out and came across the bottles. They had a quick taste before chucking them and were amazed at the flavour, which had developed from maturing. It was bottled and sold and the rest as they say is history.
These two sauces are so versatile and can be used in just about anything, its all a case of personal preference. I like to have Tabasco, lime and salt & pepper with my avocado- amazing! But a good partnership of these two is formed in a fantastic warm drink I often take with when night fishing; the Bullshot.
1 pint of good quality beef stock
100ml of Vodka (or more if you like!)
a few dashes of Tabasco
a few dashes of Worcester sauce
a dash of bitters
salt & pepper.
Serve warm and add as much Tabasco as you can take! This drink really does create a lovely warming effect and the only contender is maybe a hot toddy. My final word on these two sauces is to say if someone doesn’t have one of these two in their store cupboard…I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them!