And since I’m now in Texas, here’s a little cartoon I ran across.

No Worcester sauce in Texas

Alex E. Sweet and J. Armoy Knox, On a Mexican Mustang Through Texas (London: Chatto & Windus, 1905)

 

Two Englishmen go into a store at Weimar [in Texas].

“Aw, ‘ave you got henny Lea and Perrin’s Wor’ster sauce?”

“No: don’t keep it, sir: never heard of it.”

“Never ‘eard of it! By Jove, what a blawsted country!”

Turning to the other exile,

“‘Arry, let’s go back to hold Hengland”

Yes, the humor is a tad heavy-handed.

But it’s telling in its way because Worcester sauce is a pretty good marker of the reach of the British formal and informal empire.  Everywhere British steamships went and British merchants set up in business in the nineteenth century, they sold Worcester sauce.  So you still find it in remote towns on the pampas of Argentina, dusty shops in the old town in Panama City, and in kitchens in Japan.

Now of course you get it in Texas supermarkets too.  But not, apparently, in 1905.

This whole business of culinary markers of older empires is a fascinating one.  Stuffed meat dumplings, for example, map the outlines of the Mongol Empires from China to Turkey to Russia. Curry powder as well as Worcester sauce are markers of the British trading area. Vinha d’alhos works pretty well for the Portuguese Empire and for subsequent Portuguese diasporas  being found from India (vindaloo) to Hawaii.

These markers don’t have to originate with the empire in question (see curry powder and Worcester sauce, the latter a version of the fish sauce of Southeast Asia).  But they do have to be something that was popular and easy to transfer.

Any other candidates? I don’t know the former French colonies as well.  But what about the triangular foil-wrapped cheese, La vache que rit?

 

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