As a dedicated Sheffielder, I don’t like to go anywhere without a bottle of Henderson’s Relish. When I moved to Liverpool in 2015 one of the essential purchases before packing my life into the back of a car was a bottle of Sheffield’s finest. A lot has happened in the last two and a half years but one thing still remains, that same bottle of relish in my cupboard from the day I moved (different kitchen, different cupboard, same bottle). Half full, and now looking like the condiment of yesteryear with the traditional branding, before this year’s sharp new font emblazoned 284ml of the black stuff, it still stands proud alongside that multipack of John West tuna and an ill thought out tin of mixed beans.
The fact is though, it’s there; like that old jumper in the back of your wardrobe that only comes out on certain occasions. In the same way you wouldn’t wear it on a night out or to a family party, you wouldn’t pair relish with a summer salad or refined pasta dish. But every so often, usually in cold midwinter, it gets the call up and there’s nothing finer to warm the cockles and accompany a plate of your Nannan’s hash and dumplings, or soaking into every crack of Sunday’s Yorkshire puddings; the smell hitting you in the face as it meets the warm crispy goodness.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I was heading out to Hong Kong; packing was well underway but there just seemed to be something missing. There was a home-shaped hole amongst the piles of kit to wear and equipment to work on. With only a few days left to go I knew that only the tang of tamarind and Uncle Henry Henderson’s old recipe could add the finishing touches to the packing, so I logged on and managed to get a bottle shipped from Amazon (let’s not talk about the price paid to make sure it was at my door the next day).
As stated previously, I have a list of unfinished projects, one of which being a Youtube channel scarcely populated, and with little sign of theme or reason. However, this seemed like a good time to try something new, so a popular Unboxing video ensued. It wasn’t fancy, it didn’t take long and much like this blog was little more than an experimental vanity project; I wasn’t advertising Hendos, in fact most people watching would be none-the-wiser that it wasn’t Aldi’s alternative of Worcester Sauce (it hurts a bit to even let them words see the light of day). It went on Youtube, a tweet went out and that was the end of it, confined to a dozen or so views like my recent takes on Amsterdam, London and Hong Kong.
It came as a bit of surprise then when the views started adding up a little, albeit modestly, but certainly collecting more than the norm, with the top referrer coming from the Sheffield Star and Yorkshire Times. It was even more of a surprise to find someone had managed to write a 273 word article about this experience, and even more of a surprise that the headline claimed it had been flown 6,000 miles around the world.
The story claiming that the order had been shipped direct to Kowloon featured quotes from me, and went into detail about the packaging right down to my own issues trying to break through the layers of boxed-up bubble wrap.
But his battle to crack the sauce still isn’t over – he can be seen struggling with the bottle wrapped in bubble wrap before he finally manages to unleash the sauce which is one of Sheffield’s best loved institutions.
When I did finally open my case, 108 floors above the ground in the highest hotel in the world, that bottle of Hendos took pride of place, albeit it getting used just twice throughout the week. Firstly, accompanying a local chicken delicacy, it was lashed on the fennel and chicken without a care, whilst adding that textbook steel city zing to the pickled sea weed and crispy fried vegetables cooked up by a man who ensured me an authentic taste of Hong Kong.
The second time it was used? Well that’s easy. All over a packet of ready salted crisps.
You can take the relish out of Sheffield…