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Last Call: How Worcestershire sauce gets made—and hear Brits pronounce it Woostah

Illustration for article titled Last Call: How Worcestershire sauce gets made—and hear Brits pronounce it iWoostahem/em/i
Photo: Tempura (iStock)
Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

Woostah sauce

When’s the last time you devoted five minutes of undivided attention to Worcestershire sauce? If your answer, like me before today, is never, may I suggest changing that fact by watching this segment from Discovery UK and learn how this ubiquitous condiment gets made. Here’s what I learned:

  • Did you know that Worcestershire sauce—which I’ve always pronounced as Woo-stuh-sure sauce, and definitely not War-chest-er-shy-er sauce, is pronounced by many in the British empire as Woo-stah?
  • I’ll bet you can name four of its main ingredients—garlic, onions, anchovies, vinegar—but can you name the fifth? It’s tamarind, and it’s imported from India.
  • The Lea & Perrins factory in the U.K. town of Worcester produces some 26 million bottles of Worcestershire sauce each year, and the English version is made from malt vinegar. While the American version made in New Jersey, where 27 million bottles are produced each year, employs a slightly different recipe, using distilled white vinegar instead of malt.
  • The factory where Worcestershire sauce gets made most likely stinks like hell.

Have a great weekend, friends, and we’ll see you next week. [Kevin Pang]

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Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.

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DISCUSSION

singedvinegar2
SingedVinegar2

Worcestershire sauce is essential for making that most quintessential British bedtime snack: roasted cheese. But Vinegar, I hear you all warble like demented squirrels, what is roasted cheese? Sit down, and pay attention.

First, you need two slices of good bread. I’m not talking your mass-produced cake-like monstrosities you have in the States. We’re talking Hovis. We’re talking Warburtons (aka, The King Of Toastie Bread). And if you’re in Scotland and Northern England, we’re talking Mother’s Pride. And you’ll need cheese, namely the best cheddar you can buy. I prefer Lockerbie or Orkney, but that’s because I’m a Scot. Och aye the fuckin’ noo ya clatty bastards.

What to do is thus...

First, crank your grill, sorry, “Broiler” to high. Take your cheese, kiss it tenderly and then proceed to slice off enough thick slices (preferably around a centimetre to a centimetre and a half thick and why aren’t you using the metric system? Hmm?) to cover two slices of your bread. Don’t put the cheese on yet.

Pop your bread onto a grill pan and place under the grill, keeping an eye on the fuckers as bread does have an alarming ability to carbonise rapidly. When the bread starts to go golden (about E4 on the chart I’ve provided below. Pay attention) remove, flip the bread over and layer your cheese on the untoasted side of the bread and replace under the grill. Now, some - like my boyfriend - think you should toast both sides before applying your cheesy goodness and those people are fucking wrong and will be first to be liquidated when the Roasted Cheese Revolution happens. Either way though, stick your fucking bread and cheese back under the grill. Sorry, “broiler”.

Now, you’re looking to grill the cheese until it starts to bubble. Believe it or not, but some people - namely my mother - prefer to grill it until it bubbles but doesn’t colour and those people are wrong and should be jailed for crimes against humanity. Cheddar cheese tastes sublime when it starts to develop those little spots of dark deliciousness that tells you the cheese is moments from heading down that darkened garden path towards being burned. Upon that stage, remove the grill pan and splash on a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. I prefer to stick it back under the grill and ignore the suddenly-hungry cat I’ve got meowing around my feet and grill for another ten seconds before removing and adding, yup, more sauce and a good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.

Either way, remove, dish it up and if you serve this with salad, I will hunt you and your family down in the night and skin your children in front of you. The roasted cheese should be unctuous and sadistically tangy. It should make you crave more. I’ve always said that two slices is nice for a snack, but eight is a midnight feast waiting to happen. One thing - salt. I don’t salt my roasted cheese, simply because my preferred cheddars are naturally salty, the sauce is salty and it really doesn’t need it, but if you must add salt, do so sparingly.

Oh, and serve with a mug of tea. Naturally.

Now, who wants to see the bread that I mentioned? Of course you do. By the way - your roasted cheese is to be served on thick-cut bread. Not your poxy thin-cut bread. What the hell, Karen? What’s next? Avocado and roasted cheese? And yes, that was a short-lived menu option at a cafe I know in Glasgow. Scum. Hipster scum at that...

We’ll start with Hovis. Hovis is a British classic. Usually wholemeal or stonemeal or, if you’re a tit, yon 50/50 loaf. It’s good, solid and decent bread

Then we have Warburton’s. I labelled this the king of toastie bread and, yeah, it pretty much is. If I’m using Warburton’s, I tend to favour their white Toastie loaf. I love their brown breads, but I prefer keeping those for sandwiches.

And then we have the last one. Our very own Mother’s Pride. Now, this bread is a culinary oddity, mostly because it’s classed as a “Northern Bread”. Either way though, this is the packaging...

And this is what it looks like. And yeah, I said it was odd...

I’ve always said that Mother’s Pride was designed for roasted cheese. I mean, look at those slices. Each slice is roughly twice the surface area of other breads! Which means double your pleasure!

And for the love of fucking christ, learn to pronounce Worcestershire sauce the right way. Christ. It’s not as if we’re asking you to pronounce Ecclefechan or Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, is it?

PS - Kinja editing sucks balls, by the way.  Just like American bacon.