Although we think of Worcestershire sauce as a distinctly British condiment, it originated in India and has more in common with the fish sauces of Vietnam and Thailand than any of the bland sauces that citizens of the United Kingdom enjoyed in the 19th century. The original formula was reportedly brought back from India to England in 1835 by Lord Marcus Sandys, ex-governor of Bengal. He asked two chemists, John Lea and William Perrins to mix up an odd-sounding mixture of vinegar, molasses, anchovies, tamarind, garlic, onion, spices and other 'flavourings'. Lea and Perrins made up the sauce but found it so foul smelling and tasting they stored it in the cellar, where it lay forgotten for two years. When they finally tasted it again, the flavours had blended and mellowed into the piquant, spicy sauce we know today. L&P still manufacture the 'original & genuine' sauce in Worcester, England. The ingredients are fermented, strained to remove most of the solids, then aged in wooden casks. There are several other brands of Worcestershire sauce, including French's and Heinz. Like other fish sauces, Worcestershire is strong and aromatic - stinky, its detractors might argue. Unlike nuac mam and nam pla (Vietnamese and Thai fish sauces), Worcestershire is often used 'straight' as a dipping sauce, rather than being mixed with other ingredients. When used in cooking, a little goes a long way and the flavour of the Worcestershire should be subtle. The exception is a Bloody Mary, which would just be tomato juice and vodka without the addition of Worcestershire sauce and a few drops of Tabasco. Worcestershire gives a warm, spicy complexity to dishes containing cheese and/or cream. It is excellent in macaroni and cheese - make a basic bechamel (white sauce), add lots of sharp cheddar and a teaspoon or so of Worcestershire. Toss the sauce with cooked macaroni and put into a dish, then top with breadcrumbs and more cheese, then bake. Worcestershire sauce also provides a natural companion for meat dishes, including steak tartare. Chinese and Asian cooks have embraced Worcestershire sauce - it's often served with dim sum as an accompaniment to fried spring rolls. Some Chinese cooks are also making use of the sauce by adding just a few drops of the tangy sauce to combine with their basic meat marinades.