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Gentleman's Relish, or Patum Paperium, is a dark brown, very piquant paté or paste which should be used extremely sparingly to liven up any number of savoury dishes or even common or garden toast or bread and butter. It is sold in attractive, but tiny porcelain pots, which ooze Victoriana. These make an unusual gift (if you know any gentlemen ;)), a 1.5 ounce pot costing approximately $5 or £3. Be warned though, it's one of those things people either love or hate - there is no in between!

The recipe for Gentleman's Relish is a closely guarded secret. It is solely manufactured in Elsenham, England by Elsenham Quality Foods and was invented in 1828 by John Osborne. It is known to contain a blend of anchovies, butter, exotic herbs and spices; its taste is very strong, very salty and slightly fishy.

A few suggested uses (shamelessly lifted from the manufacturer's website)

  • Gentleman's Scrambled Eggs: Spread The Gentleman's Relish, on well-buttered toast, or without butter on fried bread. Make scrambled eggs in the usual way and put on to the toast or fried bread.
  • Anchovy Rarebit: Melt together grated Cheddar cheese, butter, The Gentleman's Relish and Worcester Sauce. Spread onto toast and brown under the grill. (This is likely to blow your head off if you're not careful!)
  • Fish Pie: Make a white sauce (thoroughly mix butter, The Gentleman's Relish, flour, seasoning, boil some milk, and slowly beat into the mixture). Flake cooked fish, adding half this quantity of well mashed potatoes. Add the white sauce and thoroughly mix. Place in a buttered dish, grate cheese over the top and bake in a hot oven until golden brown
  • Avocado Vinaigrette: Add The Gentleman's Relish to home made vinaigrette dressing. Halve an avocado pear, remove stone and pour dressing into cavity. Serve with brown bread and butter
  • Zesty Onion Soup: Spread The Gentleman's Relish on slices of French bread, top with grated cheese and heat through in oven. Place a slice in each serving bowl and top with piping hot French onion soup
  • Chicken Surprise (especially surprising if you don't like anchovies!): Mix unsalted butter with The Gentleman's Relish, chopped parsley and lemon juice. Chill, then cut into finger-sized portions. Make a slit in skinned, boneless chicken breast and wrap tightly around pieces of butter. Coat with flour, egg and breadcrumbs, chill then fry

Gentleman's Relish was also an excellent play adapted from the novel Kingdom Swann, shown on British television in 2001 and starring Billy Connolly as the Victorian pornographer/photographer.


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