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A.1.: A Sauce Philosophy

The main ingredients are tomatoes, raisin paste, and vinegar. Somehow, A.1. Sauce is an umami bomb: sweet, salty, and meaty at once. But where does its name come from?

Legend has it that “A1” was a term used to describe particularly good boats in the British fleet. One of the first examples of “A1” separating itself from its naval roots was when King George IV declared a meat sauce “A1.”

We like to imagine the interaction went something as follows:

Welcome to 1820s England. The monarchy is strong, Charles Dickens is going through traumatic childhood experiences that will become the foundation for his writings, and England is planning the colonization of India which will eventually result in Chicken Tikka Masala becoming their national dish over 150 years later. 

“I’m hungry!” The king rudely yelled, as courtesy iss not his forte.

“Yes, my liege, I have prepared you something special,” says the chef, slightly skittish.

The chef has prepared a sauce designed to go with mutton—it was his life’s work. But the last chef to present the king his ‘life’s work’ was subjected to a brutal lashing, so the chef is right to be scared.

But there's no way out, so the chef presents his mutton to the king, drenched in sauce. The king looks skeptically and thinks to himself, “a lashing awaits,” but decides to try the food first. The king may be cruel and omnipotent, but he liked to have reasons behind his lashings.

The king cautiously bites into the sauce drenched mutton. He chews, furrows his brow, chews some more, swallows.

“Huh,” the king says before shoveling another piece of meat into his mouth.

After eating the whole plate of food and licking it clean, the king tastefully proclaims, “my good Chef, this sauce is A1!”

The rest is history. Or something.

A1 has even transcended the culinary world and now designates all things which are good. The front page of a newspaper: A1. Kendrick Lamar lyrics: A1. Lebron James to Anthony Davis: A1 to 1A.

It’s an A1 world, and we’re just living in it.

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