Offending Grammarians with Welsh Rarebit

Let's set aside the persistent sickness, and the breakup, and the incessant rainstorm of Noah's Ark proportions that has plagued us here in London for the past ten days straight, and focus on more cheery things. For instance, I looked outside today and marvelously saw a soft blue sky. And nearly as considerable, I just tried welsh rarebit for the first time. (I'd love to say that I made welsh rarebit for the first time, but it was all Kasey's doing.)

I know the name makes it sounds like some hearty, carnivorous dish, but welsh rarebit is astonishingly nothing more than a muddle of cheese, egg, onions, and a dash of seasoning, broiled atop a slice of bread. Yet, despite the recipe's overt veggie-friendliness, "rarebit" is indeed a reference to rabbit. Food historians aren't quite sure if the name is simply a reflection of the Welsh's intense fondness for cheese, or if it comes down to the reality that while some of the lower classes used rabbit in place of more expensive butcher meats, the Welsh were so poor, cheese was often their substitute for proper animal protein.

Either way, there are grammarians out there who bristle at the use of "rarebit" rather than "rabbit" when referring to the dish. H. W. Fowler wrote in the 1926 edition of the Dictionary of Modern English Usage: "Welsh Rabbit is amusing and right. Welsh Rarebit is stupid and wrong."

I'll leave the decision to you as to whether or not you'd like to elicit scorn from the likes of Mr. Fowler when referring to it, but do try this British specialty. It's simple to throw together and pleasingly savory; a smidge reminiscent of quiche - just on toast!


Adapted from Jill Dupleix's Welsh Rarebit

1 small onion, finely diced
150 grams mature Cheddar or double Gloucester, grated
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yolk
1-2 teaspoons mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper, or a dash of Tabasco sauce
4 slices of bread, toasted

Saute the onions in a non-stick pan until soft and browned. In a bowl combine the cheese, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolk, mustard, and cayenne, mashing well. Add the onions and mix to a spreadable paste. Spread the cheese mixture over the toast, right to the edges. Place under the broiler for 2 minutes until hot and melted.


Bob said...

I love Rabbit

anne spice said...

Long time Bob!

Well I suppose you could add some token rabbit to the recipe (do you shoot it yourself?!?), perhaps realizing some poor Welshman's epicurean dream.