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Gentleman's Relish

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Gentleman's Relish

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Gentleman's Relish

There can be no homelier taste of England for some than thin buttered toast lightly spread with patum peperium – or, to give it its more familiar name, Gentleman's Relish. It might sound more English than Worcestershire sauce, but this highly seasoned anchovy paste may be seen as a distant descendant of an ancient Roman condiment, garum. This was a rather smelly sauce made from decomposed fish, used extensively in Roman cookery. It was created by fermenting and salting fish and shellfish in open tanks for three months.

There is nothing smelly about GR, which is still being made to a recipe first formulated in 1828 by one John Osborn. Inevitably, the recipe is a closely guarded secret, know only to one employee of the licensed company Elsenham Quality Foods at any one time.

Although the textbook Gentleman's Relish moment usually involves thin white toast, with perhaps the odd sliver of cucumber, we have heard tell of adventurous souls mixing it into scrambled eggs, or adding it to the mixture for fishcakes.


Your comments

Winter. Cosy on my armchair. Sitting by the fire. I take the toast from the toasting fork, spread it with butter and a scraping of Gentlemen's Relish. The taste! Salty and rich; fishy and caramelised. The smacking of the lips! The sheer Englishness of it all! As Vintage Krug is to a bottle of Tizer, so Gentlemen's Relish is to a jar of Marmite.

John Denney

You cannot better the taste of Gentlemens Relish! Or as I have recently discovered from Waitrose Poachers Relish - Salmon and lemon zest, delicious on toast!
Squire James

"My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen" As a former member of the team of Butlers to the directorate of one of the world's largest companies, I have very fond memories of this magnificient product. A firm favourite with our board, their guests (many from overseas), and staff alike, Afternoon Tea service often became our favourite time of day. Absolutely unique and delicious, a true 'comfort food' particularly during the winter months. Twenty years later, my larder still remains incomplete without that lovely porcelain pot!!
Graham Duell

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My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry