I am not sure how or when Worcestershire sauce made it to Mexico; shortly after John Lea and William Perrins created their iconic sauce in Worcester in 1835-37, it was introduced commercially in the United States, so it probably just crossed “south of the border” at some point. It is one of the original ingredients in Caesar salad, invented in the 1920s in Tijuana, and steak houses and bars in Mexico have always had a good provision of Worcestershire sauce, to tenderize meat and season drinks (such as Bloody Mary and Micheladas); also, for as long as pizzerias have existed in Mexico City, Worcestershire sauce has been a staple on their tables, custom that later on went viral across the country.
Once, back in the 1980s in Mexico City, a friend of mine had a guest visiting from England, and we went out for pizza; the visitor was quite surprised to see a bottle of Lea & Perrins™ on the table, and even more surprised to see us all natives adding a generous splash to our pizza slices. She remarked that it was not common to use the sauce this way in Great Britain, and laughed – in a polite manner – when she learned that we called it “salsa inglesa” – “English sauce”. I am guessing this is because it was the only British sauce we had, and also because nobody can pronounce “Worcestershire.” I mean, for instance, we asked her to say the name, and she uttered “Wooster sauce” – really? Yeah, “salsa inglesa” it is!
Fast-forward to December 2019, my last night in beautiful Guadalajara, in the Mexican state of Jalisco. My sister, my brother in-law and I were looking for a place to eat, but since it was late on a Sunday night, many restaurants were already closed. The only two we spotted near our hotel were a pub and a pizzeria. “Punto mágico “ – “Magic Point”, was a Harry Potter themed pub:
Their menu was displayed outside, on a long board propped on the wall, by the sidewalk:
Butter beer and pumpkin juice sounded like fun, but we were tired, and thought we were not up to discover whether their “troll stew” or “hippogriff wings” were tasty. The other restaurant was “La pizza del perro negro” – “The Black Dog’s Pizza”, also catering to young adults, kind of a cool goth pizza joint with its own comic book/menu, and a Buddha/Yoda-esk sculpture outside (I am guessing this was The Black Dog himself), for belly rubbing and wish making:
The server kindly suggested that we would better enjoy a table in the patio area. She was right, by the way; I got a kick out of their restrooms – styled as a dungeon – but the music and lights in the main dinning area were … outside my age-range preferences (hehe). The pizza was good, but what caught my attention was their house salsa inglesa, offered in a small bottle with no label, which was definitely not Lea & Perrins™. I asked the server and she brought a larger bottle, labelled “Inglesita” (photo at the top of the post), which means “English little one.” It was nice on our pizza, and I was pleased to learn from the label that it was made in Mexico, in small batches, and with organic ingredients:
The flavour was indeed different from the original Lea & Perrins™, but also unlike it, the recipe seemed not to be a big secret, and the label included a complete ingredient list on the back:
I first thought that I would not try to make this at home, though, because, why mess with the original recipe? I mean, is it not a bird in the hand worth two in the bush? Then I saw that this sauce had no anchovies, the main reason why my vegetarian daughter does not add Worcestershire sauce to her pizza, and I had my “aha!” moment: I would definitely try making “salsa inglesa” at home, a version that she could try, enabling her to join the ranks of the Mexican-style pizza eaters, like my husband, my omnivore daughter, and me!
The Latin names of some of the ingredients on the list above looked intimidating, but in my next post, I will share my findings, and the recipe I developed for salsa inglesa vegetariana.