Saturday, 3 September 2016

National Welsh Rarebit Day.



Today is National Welsh Rarebit Day.
A famous Welsh dish, written accounts of it appear as early as 1725, but the name Welsh rarebit first appears later, around. Described by some as a kind of ‘posh cheese on toast’, ingredients vary but mostly include Welsh cheese, ale and mustard mixed up and served on toast. It's an old favourite of mine, and I don't really do posh, but today when its cold and wet outside and well as usual the kitchen cupboards aren't overflowing,  most of the ingredients for this rather nice comfort food can be found to quickly tantalize my taste buds.
It is thought that the dish was attributed to the Welsh because of their historic passionate fondness for cheese,which was used as a substitute for meat as a source of protein by poor peasants.It has been popular since at least the 1500s under the name of caws pobi, which is Welsh for toasted cheese.Indeed, according to a 16th-century joke, the Welsh were famous for their love of toasted cheese – St Peter was said to have got rid of a troublesome "company of Welchman" who were troubling the peace of heaven by going outside and shouting caws pobi – "that is as moche as to say 'Rosty'd ches!' Which thynge the Welchman herying ran out of heven a grete pace".
Welsh rabbit has of course produced one of the great linguistic cause elebres of gastronomy with its genteel variant Welsh rarebit. There is little doubt that rabbit is the original form, and that rarebit 1) is an attempt to folk-etymologize it—that is, to reinterpret the odd and inappropriate-sounding rabbit as something more fitting to the dish. Precisely how this took place is not clear; it has been speculated that rarebit was originally rearbit, that is, something eaten at the end of a meal, but there is no actual evidence for this. However that may be, the spurious rarebit has continued to be preferred up to the present day by those who apparently find honest-to-goodness rabbit slightly vulgar. The French, incidentally, who admire the dish, get round the problem in their usual pragmatic way by calling it simply le Welsh.
According to many sources, the name Welsh Rabbit came about as an ethnic slur against the Welsh by the English, part of an age-old British tradition - having a dig at the Welsh. The English also used the adjective Welsh to describe an item of inferior quality. A Welsh pearl, for instance, might have a low grade or even be counterfeit, and using a Welsh comb meant brushing your hair with your fingers. By this reasoning, Welsh rabbit is an inferior form of rabbit or a main dish for people who can't put real meat on the table. the idea being that the impoverished and uncouth Welsh had to eat this melted cheese on toast instead of the rabbit they couldn't afford. Therefore it was, supposedly, due to the English condescension towards their Welsh neighbors, who, even though rabbits ran wild in Britain, couldn't manage to put one on their table. Also, there may have been another connotation: that the Welsh, in their uncivilized state, thought the dish was fine dining, as good as eating rabbit, which, if you get it, means that they didn't even know what fine dining was, let alone would they be able to afford it.
As the dish gained in popularity, the name rarebit became more common. The name change was probably an attempt to make the name more fitting to the dish and drop some of the more patronizing overtones.

The following recipe is one I use.Should be able to serve two people. Delicious and quite easy to make. Many others with more variety out there online.

Ingrediants 

350g (12oz) mature Cheddar, grated 
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
2 tbsp beer (preferably stout) or milk 
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 
1 tsp English mustard 
pinch cayenne pepper 
4/6 thick slices white bread,


Set aside 1 heaped tablespoon of grated cheese. Mix the rest with the egg, beer (preferably stout) or milk, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and cayenne.
Preheat the grill to high and toast the bread on both sides. Spread the cheese mixture on top and then sprinkle on the reserved cheese.
Grill until the cheese is melted and starting to turn golden brown. Serve immediately. Enjoy.....  hyfryd/lovely

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