There are various legends about the birth of chimichurri and its name, with the most famous claiming that it was 19th-Century Irish immigrant James (Jimmy) McCurry, who, longing for Worcestershire sauce – a popular condiment in the UK and Ireland that's made of vinegar, molasses, garlic, anchovies and other ingredients – decided to create another flavoursome condiment with local ingredients. Supposedly, the sauce took his name "Jimmy McCurry", which became "chimichurri" with Argentinian pronunciation.
Others believe the name "chimichurri" came about in the early 1800s during the failed British invasion of Rio de la Plata, the estuary that separates Argentina from Uruguay, when captive British soldiers asked for condiments by saying, "give me the curry", which Argentines translated into "chimichurri". Still another story alleges that the sauce arrived in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries with Basque migrants, who with their millenary wood-fired grilling culture brought along tximitxurri (pronounced "cheemeechooree"), a Basque-style herb sauce that typically includes herbs, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and Espelette pepper.
And though many Argentines would proudly claim that it was their own grandmother who invented the sauce, some say that its roots go back to before Christopher Columbus came to the Americas in 1492. According to Daniel Balmaceda, an Argentinian historian and author, the word "chimichurri" comes from the Quechua, an Indigenous population who have lived in the Andean region of northern Argentina since well before the arrival of Europeans. "It was a generic term used to describe strong sauces to accompany and conserve different kinds of meat," Balmaceda said.