There are not a lot of things I’ve stuck at consistently down the years aside from drinking, swearing at other road-users, and maintaining a hardcore belief in the superiority of my musical taste. But I’ve been a proud user of Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce ever since my Mum suggested over breakfast one morning a few decades back that I split a Lincolnshire sausage down the middle and sprinkle it with the dark, acidic condiment. Now I can’t make a soup or a stew without a vigorous shake of the brown bottle to add a touch of English flavour. Those of you who know English cuisine may argue that there’s no such thing. And if it wasn’t for Worcestershire Sauce And Marmite, you’d probably be right.
So anyway, I was on my customary trawl through Safeway this morning and found that the supermarket chain has dared to produce its own brand. Not only that, the Safeway Worcestershire Sauce was less than half the price of Lea & Perrins. How different can they be, I wondered? A checklist of the ingredients showed them to be more or less identical, although Safeway’s version had slightly less sodium. Lea & Perrins, on the other hand, does contain chili pepper extract. Would this mean the Safeway version was safer? It was excuse enough – brand loyalty trumped financial considerations, and I stayed true to the company of my native land that has consistently served my palate so well down the years.
In case you’re wondering why in the name of jumping Jesus I’m telling you all this, it’s because some people simply do not realise the daily dilemmas faced by stay-at-home-pops. It’s not all perusing the paper followed by morning coffee and six-way interactions with tag teams of willing housewives, rounded off with an afternoon nap in front of the Premier League or an Argentine soap opera. There are hard domestic decisions to be made, and you have to be on your toes if you’re not going to waste the entire morning hanging around the aisles, blocking the way for diligent but surly shelf-stackers, or getting sidetracked by old ladies’ demands for you to reach up to get them a can of pureed okra soup. Even now, I quake ahead of presenting the daily accounts to Mrs. Pop this evening after dinner, in which I stutteringly justify the extra outlay born of my steadfast adherence to the UK firm.
But as she docks two dollars from my pocket money and sends me to my room, I will tell her, “Darling, in these troubled, flavour-challenged times, a man must stick by his choice of sauce. Not every nation has produced a striking combination of vinegar, molasses, anchovies and tamarind concentrate. And it ill befits me to stoop so low as to purchase a cheap, counterfeit version made in a country that hypocritically chides the Chinese for breach of copyright laws. Tomorrow, presented with a hotpot of simmering Irish stew, you will thank me.” If I can get all that in before the bottle is cracked down upon my balding head.
But if this turns out to be my last post, be sure that I’ll have died a happy man, swooning on a snatched final mouthful of Lea & Perrins’ finest product, mixed with tiny shards of brown glass and honest red blood from a shopper of high principle.